Accelerate Your Professional Development: 3 Benefits of Peer Learning

Denver Shared Spaces exists to ensure that Metro Denver is home to a dynamic ecosystem of effective shared space centers.  Over the past several years, as we have worked to develop programming toward that goal, we have found that starting new centers and coworking spaces can be really challenging.

However, getting the thing started is only half the battle.

Once the doors are open the next chapter begins – with its own unique set of challenges, problems to be solved, and successes to be celebrated.  According to the Nonprofit Centers Network’s 2015 State of the Sector Survey, mission-driven shared spaces run on a lean staffing structure, with an average of 2 full-time staff.  As we’ve grown our programs, we have relied on these full-time staff people – whose titles vary from manager to facilitator, animator to director – for their insight and expertise from the “frontlines” of this growing movement.  What has been made clear is the job of managing a coworking center isn’t like anything else in the real estate industry.  It’s sort of like property management, sort of like community engagement, kind of along the lines of sales or marketing or culture cultivation.  But . . . not quite.

So in response to requests from our local managers (“This job is tough!” “Who else is doing this kind of work?” “Where’s the cheat sheet for all these policies I’m creating?!” “Why won’t my tenants do their DSS-RoundTable-Logo-RGB-Smalldishes?!?!”), DSS launched the Managers Roundtable – a monthly peer-to-peer learning circle that brings together 8 shared space managers to learn from each other.  We will be highlighting the work of this priceless brain trust in our new and improved monthly newsletter.  (And if you aren’t subscribed yet, get on it!)  But what I want to focus on today is not how unique and incredible this program is, or how much meaningful learning is happening.  I want to share with you why we picked the specific learning style we’re using in the Roundtable, and why we think it’s the best for adult learners.

Peer learning circles are great.  And here’s why.

  • Learn More, Faster. Peer learning circles rapidly improve individual skill sets by providing an action-oriented learning environment. Adults learn best when they apply new information to real-world, current challenges.   In a peer learning setting, people learn from the challenges and pitfalls others have faced, and have the opportunity to immediately apply solutions to their own contexts.  Learning from others + doing for yourself = way better than Googling it.
  • Identify Strengths, Leverage Growth. Peer learning circles are built on the belief that every member has something to contribute and that every member has something to learn. This collaborative approach helps members hone in on their strengths as they teach their peers.  The peer learning circle is shown to increase productivity, and lead to higher achievement in participants’ work settings.
  • Get Connected. It’s clear that personal connections are a primary avenue for career development and getting your next big job. While this isn’t the talking point you necessarily want to lead with when trying to get your boss to pay for your participation in a peer learning circle, it is a tangible benefit.  Peer learning circles build strong professional relationships, and are a key tool for building your network in a given industry.

If you’re interested in peer learning circles, send us an email and we’ll connect.  Or share your experience of learning from your peers in this type of setting.  Did it work from you?  What were the benefits?  What was challenging about it?