Peer education is strong. Sometimes you learn so much more out of a colleague who has been on the job longer than you, than from a designated business coach, a guru giving a ted talk or that well-remunerated speaker that had been brought in to rev up your company breakfast.
Decades ago the term “sitting by Nellie” was popular — when you started a project you sat next to someone experienced who’d show you the ropes. The innuendo over the years was that this was a poor method to learn since it relied on Nellie, who may not have the required coaching skills to up skill someone else and improve worker productivity. The truth is that this is the favoured way of learning for lots of individuals originally thrown into a new role, at least for a time till they ‘overtake’ or ‘outgrow’ Nellie’s fountain of knowledge and skills.
It is tempting at a new job to feel simultaneously defensive and overly rah-rah of what you could do. You may not welcome being shown the ropes by somebody whose style is not particularly compatible with yours. But if you set aside pre-conceived ideas of what your job entails or who is able to do the describing, there are invaluable techniques to build skills from peer-based learning.
Two-way fluid learning
To begin with, it is well-recognised that while peer education is a teacher-student connection, the functions are more fluid. You’re in reality teaching and learning from each other, and you both may very well be high quality advisors.
Recognising another individual’s greater experience in the region whilst communicating receptivity and endurance to what they’re saying benefits you both. If the suggestions and insights offered are equally constructive and useful, this generally motivates the student to reciprocate in different ways. What’s more, this gradually builds trust and a casual atmosphere of constant improvement, and of course honesty and transparency, which are excellent builders of a favourable office culture.
Proactively seek an assortment of peer mentors
You do not necessarily need to share the exact same career goals with peer mentors; often it is helpful to consult and learn from individuals whose expertise and aspirations are different from your own so long as they can offer strategic business advice.
It’s likewise beneficial to seek out colleagues from different cultures and make a conscious effort to discover skill sets and knowledge that around and broaden your own understanding. Be proactive and try to learn from others, expand your networking and communicating with all members of the group. Everyone will have something to offer that promotes new thinking.
Communicate with caution
With increased migration and increased diversity quotas, offices are quickly evolving, posing challenges on cultural, societal and training levels. Insensitive pairings and lack of awareness about fundamental ground rules of communication can cause feathers to ruffle.
Constantly seek to be open to learning, communicate with caution and be supportive of others. Suspend assumptions and decisions. Take note that idioms or colloquial language have the capacity to cause offense when peer mentoring, so proceed with caution and tact.
Digital communication, particularly in video and audio forms, can be particularly useful when your workplace is geographically dispersed. Skype, various communication programs, and live-streamed coaching can offer real-time communication. And easy pre-recorded video clips to showcase new skills, ideas and ways of doing things are a bonus for training.
While this essay makes clear, learning from gifted colleagues on the front (compared to more conventional training videos, or for that matter, management) is a lot more likely to sharpen skills and consciousness. The attractiveness of videoing what you are doing is so that you can analyse and improve, with input from experienced peers.
The old saying that your athletic match improves when you play against someone better than you holds true at work. Accept, love and enjoy what peer mentors can demonstrate.