Why is social learning a tale talked about but not walked upon? Karen May, VP of People Development, Google says, "Googlers tell us that when they really need to figure something out, they ask each other. They turn to their colleagues for information, advice, and support"
If you ever wondered why your parents were judging every friend you ever brought home? Well, the answer lies in the Social Learning Theory by Albert Bandura and through his series of experiments known as Bobo Doll experiments. He studied the relation of social behaviours influenced through observation and imitation. A total of 24 children watched their model being aggressive towards a toy called Bobo Doll. The results showed a very high-reliability correlation between the influence and their behaviour. Based on this Albert proposed in the 1970s that conditioning alone cannot account for behaviours. According to the Social Learning Theory, people learn through watching others.
This theory has been the basis of growing peer learning models adopted in education. There are various factors to understand how exactly learning from peers is more effective than your robust training programs and mentorships. Even the marketeers are milking the theory through Influencer Marketing. People are most likely to listen to a "person next door" personality than your superstars advocating for the said products.
A quite similarly shared phenomenon occurs when a person sets out to work in an organisation. They observe their peers and like the Bobo Doll experiment beat the doubts out of the park. The difference is an active adoption of a strategy to encourage such peer learning sessions in the workplace.
"Hey, where do I find Kevin's files and can they be used to project last quarter's numbers?" You know this is Bat-signal for a peer's help. And this is just one of the many such Bat-signals that can be seen daily. Upon call, your peer sits in their Batmobile aka rolling chair and swings to your desk, helps you locate Kevin's file and how to exactly use that for your report and then disappears in the dark of the night. The only difference is that Batman has his franchise but peer learning is still considered a loose phenomenon that happens in an office environment.
Having a dedicated plan for peer learning in place helps increase employee productivity and boosts their morale among other benefits. Even helps organisational goals in the big picture. Here are some of the instances of how it works:
1) A Peer In Need Is a Peer Indeed!
“Whenever you need help, who you gonna call?” Not Ghostbusters but problem solvers also known as your peers. With a peer, you're more likely to have open and honest discussions about areas where you need to improve than with someone who has influence over your career and income. The problem with asking a supervisor is like being graded for their work while they are still learning and coming to grips with the working of the organisation.
2) How Good Is Your Employee Morale Scale?
Who has skipped and pranced on their way to the office just because your motivation is shot through the roof? Anyone? Okay, maybe we will reframe the question better. Who has strutted their feet and dreaded going to their workplace? Sure, there will be more takers. Yes, you do what your love and love what you do. But it looks good on a wall in a frame if your work environment does not align with where would you like to work that you love to do. We almost forget the element of human interaction and its important role. Now, imagine walking to a workplace with a new pitch replaying in your head and you feel like you should have included last year's second-quarter numbers before you move on to the projections. You would hesitate before you ask your supervisor but you would "ask for the suggestion" from your colleague who you think is your batman to work-related queries. This gives you the motivation to walk through that door, open that screen and ask your peers for their help. Knowing that there is a supportive group in place turns that motivation into a feeling of being invincible. Well, not literally but we are sure it helps!
3) Build a Workplace Huddle and Camaraderie
We all heard when The Beatles said, "How do I feel by the end of the day? Are you sad because you're on your own? No, I get by with a little help from my friends!" We all get by with a little help from our peers. Lending a helping hand is a gesture of building strong relationships. Imagine an organisation dedicatedly directs its efforts towards peer learning programs, every employee would be singing the Beatles song and build a strong Workplace Camaraderie.
4) Reduce Workplace Jitters and Harbour Empathy
A new employee or an old seasoned employee, the social anxiety will never discriminate between the two before affecting their work. This is a paradox in itself where peer pressure or a new environment act as a trigger for a rise in workplace jitters. On the other hand, a comforting "You can do this! You'll be okay!" from your peer can also help you regulate the anxious self. When your colleague is ready to share their knowledge with you, and offer you help it develops a more empathetical work environment. One that is more in sync with the evolving mindsets of the post-pandemic era of workplaces.
5) Unlock Employees' Potential and Transfer Ownership
Many organisations struggle with creating an environment where employees take ownership of overall business goals than just day-to-day tasks. Google probably figured out a way back in 2007, with its experiments with an employee-to-employee network called- g2g (Googler-to-Googler). In this network, employees voluntarily share their knowledge through courses, mentorships and creating reference materials for learning for their fellow Googlers. This helps the receivers learn a new skill and acquire knowledge while it benefits the mentor to get recognition on a company-wide platform.
Bhyve supports companies that progressively develop an employee-first culture and give importance to social learning. Through the integrated platform, any employee can turn to their peers for learning about the organisation or sharing knowledge amongst themselves. Especially in a hybrid and remote work culture where water cooler conversations for casual peer learnings have reduced to virtual texts.
The peer learning models benefit the organisation in reducing the costs of elaborate training programs when the mentors are found within their own ecosystem. It also helps them retain employees and attract new talent. Everybody would want to be part of a company that supports the cultivation of social culture. It is discussed that an average employee of 4-5 years has gathered enough knowledge to be called an asset to the company. If such an employee moves on for reasons other than opportunities befitting their own good, it is an actual loss to the company.
Learn more about setting up a knowledge-sharing platform for your own organisation at Bhyve.io .
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