This Post is Part 2 of a 5-Part Series on Professional Development.
PART 1: SELF-LEARNING | BRANDON LAWS
PART 2: PEER GROUPS | ANGELA PERKINS
PART 3: CERTIFICATIONS | LACEY HALPERN
PART 4: IN PERSON WORKSHOPS & SEMINARS | SUZI ALLIGOOD
PART 5: EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING | ALISHIA YOUNG
Click the play button below to hear Angela talk about peer groups. If the player does not work, click here to listen on Soundcloud.
Why join a peer group?
Relying solely on coworkers within your company or those on your team for idea sharing and group problem solving, you can limit yourself and your company’s wider initiatives. Joining a peer group can give you outside accountability, perspective, and simply a trusted place to be vulnerable, ask honest questions, and get feedback.
Personally, I joined my group almost four years ago. I had been an individual contributor with my company for many years, and was promoted to a leadership role. I wanted outside perspective and to grow professionally without leaving my company, so I joined the group expecting to stay only until I settled into the role. I didn’t expect to stay in the peer group as long as I have, but I’ve built trusted relationships that are critically important to me and I continue to gain so much from being in the group.
What does a peer group look like, in terms of titles & industries represented?
In my group, it is local, C-level individuals – “key executives” including CFOs, COOs, customer service, sales, and more from a wide range of industries and company sizes. Everyone has 10-20+ years of experience, so we all have had ups and downs. There are 15-18 people in the group. In other peer groups, it depends on the organization and how they organize the peer groups.
What are the meetings like?
We meet once a month for a full day. For many of the meetings, a subject matter expert speaks for half the day. It’s a give and take type of group – everyone has to be willing to share tough advice, hold each other accountable, and most importantly, we all are required to show up and be present in all meetings!
Meetings exist to drive conversation and for members to help each other solve problems. We hold each other accountable and provide each other with honest feedback and input.
We all have gotten to know each other deeply – we all understand the ins and outs of each other’s roles, but we also talk about our personal lives, families, and backgrounds.
How do you approach the group? What have you learned?
I use my group as a “rough draft.” I take new ideas to the group because I want them to point out my blindspots, ask questions of me that I haven’t thought to ask myself, and challenge me to grow professionally.
There is a commitment of both time and money. People need to approach this kind of group with 110% commitment. It’s a give and take – if people aren’t willing to be vulnerable and open, it won’t merit the time/money put in.
There have been moments where I don’t love hearing specific feedback. Those are the tough days, but you have to learn to sift through the advice given and evaluate whether to act on it.
When would a peer group not be a fit for someone?
If someone isn’t willing to be vulnerable and aren’t intentional about pushing themselves, they likely won’t get everything they could get out of a peer group.