A peer is someone who you work with but doesn’t directly report to you. Many managers have one-on-one with their directs but do the individual contributors(who do not manage people) have one-on-ones with their peers or does managers have one-on-ones with peers of other functions or teams? In most cases, No. Is this required? Absolutely! This process is called peer one-on-ones.
3 Key Reasons To Build a Peer One-on-One Culture
In many companies, workplace relationship is purely transactional to meet the company/project objectives – What you need to do and What I need to do. While this works most of the time as people are paid to perform their duties, its not black and white all the time. This culture improves morale, reduce friction and improves motivation levels.
- Something went wrong during execution or a change in your plan due to unforeseen situations and risking your project? It happens all the time. Wouldn’t it be good to have a peer who goes an extra mile to work with you to mitigate the risks on the project and help take it forward without causing too much chaos?
- You can reach a conclusion on a problem without having bad conflicts or a feeling of “I lost the battle”.
- You can share ideas and thoughts and validate them with someone you trust? What if you can learn from a peer who has seen a success in the areas you need improvement?
Having a candid conversation in an informal setup with your peer sharing your goals, your working style, your likes or dislikes helps your peer understand you better & vice versa. You will be surprised to see your peer coming to your rescue and help you achieve your goals.
Won’t it be good to pick up a phone and get things done over a quick chat instead of having a formal meeting or writing a lengthy email? Cohesiveness is the answer!
I’ve heard from many of my direct reports on how the peer one-on-ones helped them understand each other better and break the barrier that was between them.
Quick Tip: If you are a manager, you can organise fun team building activities to improve cohesiveness between your team members.
When you are collaborating with another team member, there are always new avenues for differences in opinion. While you can address these indifferences through structured fact-based discussions, cohesiveness will help you resolve it easier and most of the times doesn’t let it occur.
If conflicts aren’t addressed sooner, it grows and causes friction, dissatisfaction & affects morale. Use peer one-on-ones as a mechanism to have a candid discussion about these issues in private and hear the other person’s view points and resolve it. At the end of the discussion, you will have a sense of relief and motivated.
If you are a manager, won’t it be good to have your team members resolve conflicts with their peers on their own most of the time? This will help you focus on larger goals and build a fantastic workplace.
Sharing & Validating Ideas
Its not always about resolving conflicts and issues, use peer one-on-ones as an opportunity to share your ideas and validate them with your peer who might give you valuable insights based on experience which can help make yourself & the workplace better. And don’t forget to help your peer when in need.
How to have an effective peer one-on-one
Keep it informal
Don’t use a meeting room to have an informal discussion. Take a walk with your peer or go for a coffee and talk about how to work together better.
It depends on your company dynamics. In my setting in software development, a recurring catchup anywhere between 3,4 or 6 weeks worked.
Quick Tip: If you are a manager, you can block few hours every 3-4 weeks on a preferred day encouraging your team members to reach out to their peers.
Topics to discuss
Gain a preliminary understanding of each other’s key relationships in work, at home, their hobbies etc., within the boundaries. Its important to respect the privacy and how much information the peer is willing to disclose.
Discuss about your goals and share what help you need to achieve those. Offer your help to your peer where required. Its a win-win.
Quick Tip: You can check this article on questions you can ask in 1 on 1s.