Is the money your company spends on training paying off? Corporate training courses deliver an intense amount of information in a short period of time — most of which is promptly forgotten. How can learning be reinforced and retained? The answer may be peer-to-peer training.
Peer-to-peer, or P2P, happens when people train their colleagues. It’s an ongoing form of learning that’s reinforced at regular intervals.
German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus discovered the “forgetting curve” in the late 1800s, and brain science has since confirmed that we forget most of what we learn within hours of receiving new information; retention one week later is generally less than 10 percent.
P2P learning has a much higher success rate. It’s done in a nonthreatening environment with continued opportunities for questions and discussions. Both the trainer and the trainee benefit from this exchange of knowledge, as well as the organization, which benefits from a culture of knowledge sharing. Peer-to-peer training can take many forms, including weekly small group gatherings, as well as online discussions and resource sharing.
#1: Cost Effectiveness — In contrast to spending thousands of dollars to send a handful of employees to a training seminar, all that’s required for P2P training is a conference room at your facility. Training can be scheduled on a regular basis during a time when it’s most convenient for your team. There will still be occasions when outside training is needed, but peer-to-peer learning is a low-cost, high-value supplement.
#2: Employee Engagement — According to a recent Gallup report, just 33 percent of U.S. employees report feeling engaged at work. Researchers found that employee engagement has a positive impact on several key performance outcomes including a company’s profitability, productivity and turnover rates. Peer-to-peer training engages employees by giving them opportunities to learn and grow — and to share their knowledge with others, especially if responsibilities for leading P2P sessions are rotated.
#3: Institutional Agility — Things change rapidly in business. Technological innovations require companies to be adaptable. This makes knowledge sharing within your organization critical. Peer-to-peer training works against knowledge “silos” and allows employees from various departments to stay up-to-date on industry trends and useful technologies. Knowledge hoarding can no longer be tolerated; knowledge sharing is powerful.
#4: Retainment of Intellectual Assets — Institutional memory loss is a real problem for many large and small corporations. Today’s workforce is increasingly transient. Bureau of Labor statistics show the average person changes jobs about 12 times during a career, and the average employee tenure is just 4.2 years. When employees leave, they often take valuable knowledge with them — knowledge that could have helped remaining peers and future new hires. When a company implements a P2P learning system, knowledge is regularly shared, so it doesn’t walk out the door with employees who resign or retire.
#5: Team Building — People are generally more relaxed with their peers than when they’re with the boss. When new information is presented from someone at the same level, it’s often absorbed more readily. Training peer-to-peer allows team members to learn together. It engenders respect and camaraderie and may even motivate lower performing employees to step up their game. Everyone brings unique skills, experiences and knowledge to the conversation.
“Two people will collectively know more than one,” writes Forbes contributor Douglas Merrill. “Three will know more than two. And when you have a room full of smart people sharing their knowledge, there’s very little you can’t accomplish together.”
Of course, there is still a place for outside training and consultants to bring new skills and knowledge to your team. However, you’ll get more “bang for your buck” if you supplement this training with peer-to-peer learning. After the consultant is gone, knowledge will be retained at a higher rate as employees continue the conversation and share what they are learning.
Is it time for your organization to create a culture of knowledge sharing? The professional business consultants at Brink Results can help you establish and implement a peer-to-peer training system that will boost employee engagement, increase institutional agility and stimulate innovation to grow your business.