Lean on your peers or your superiors?

Lean on your peers or your superiors
Lean on your peers or your superiors

Your peers. Regular employees. People like yourself.

Whatever you call your work colleagues, you pay some degree of attention to what they say and do.

How influential are they in helping you do your job, especially compared to managers and other leaders?

Please take a few minutes to complete this brief survey about peer-to-peer practices by Friday, August 30.

The goal of this survey is learn how prevalent various peer-to-peer practices are in organizations, and what work environments best support them.

There’s some irony about paid volunteers—and unpaid in some cases too.

Many of us willingly volunteer to help our peers, even as we’re complaining about being crazy busy with our day job, special assignments and everything else. We like being useful, especially if the request is interesting or it’s for a worthwhile cause or person.

Those who receive the volunteer services—including me who asked a number of people to test this survey before I launched it—appreciate the help. For example, the peer reviews definitely improved the quality of the survey.

Last year at this time I worked with a group of traditional volunteers—board members of a non-profit professional association—to tap into their collective wisdom to solve a problem. I’m happy to report that they’re on a path to much greener pastures one year later.

Here’s their story.

The board members decided it was time to create the first strategic plan for their 25-year-old professional association, especially since the organization was at a crossroads.

The organization’s leaders could articulate the benefits of a clear vision and strategy.

However, they weren’t sure how to turn their blue-sky ideas into an actionable plan that would move them to greener pastures.

Before they contacted me, the board of directors had allocated five hours for a working meeting in advance of their national conference. They were worried that this wouldn’t be enough time to develop a sound plan.

I suggested using collaboration technology—also known as smart-mob organizing—in advance of the face-to-face meeting.  It would be fast, cost-effective and inclusive, especially since we could involve interested volunteers in addition to the board members.

Even though the group was more high touch than high tech, they agreed to try the approach.

Another challenge was the time of year. We were in the dog days of August, the height of vacation season and only six weeks before the in-person meeting.

Nonetheless, we were able to optimize participation using Powernoodle. (Full disclosure: I’m a member of Powernoodle’s expert community.)

Everyone shared their diverse viewpoints, candid comments and uncensored ideas anonymously.

Even better, they could give their input from the comfort of their office, home or vacation spot when it was convenient for them, as long as they had access to a PC with internet service.

The anonymity and flexibility are two of the biggest advantages of this collaboration technology.

As the facilitator in real life as well as virtually, I summarized the group’s work on Powernoodle and the additional data from the online member survey. I also provided color commentary and suggestions. All this data served as the springboard for developing the strategic plan.

In five hours, the group created its first three-year strategic plan around three pillars: Build Professional Standards, Build Infrastructure and Build Connections.

The next day the group shared the new plan at the conference and asked for feedback. By the conference’s adjournment, members had agreed to the strategic plan and committed to the new direction.

A year later, the organization is successfully executing against its strategic plan, especially the two pillars of Build Professional Standards and Build Infrastructure—and has achieved tangible results.

The clear, strong focus has helped them allocate resources better, including cutting unnecessary expenses. They’ve also re-energized the organization, including expanding the volunteer base and deepening commitment.

For example, several of the individuals who volunteered to participate in the strategic planning are taking active roles and being considered for board membership.

That’s the power of peers!

Please contribute your peer power and take the survey about peer-to-peer practiceshttps://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Connect_peer

Thank you!