Learning from your peers

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Back in the day, your peer group was the training department.

When I started in business, there really weren’t any resources to tell you how to do the day-to-day job of being a boss. The idea was that you would figure it all out. If you got any training at all it was “tavern training.” That happened when the more experienced supervisors told you their ideas of what you should do and how you should act.

Today there are lots of resources to help a new boss do a better job, but your peer group is still important. Here’s how to use your peer group to become a better boss.

Identify the good bosses among your peers

Start by identifying the best bosses among your peers. You want to learn from the best so take the time to figure out who the best bosses are. Once you’ve identified them, there are three ways to learn from them.

Observe how the good bosses do things

You’ll get lots of good ideas about how to do things by watching a good boss at work. Just remember that some things another boss does won’t work for you. That boss has experience and a reputation that you don’t have. And his or her personal style may be very different from yours. Adapt what you observe to fit your personality and situation.

Don’t simply observe. Talk to that experienced boss. He or she probably enjoys helping other people succeed. It’s what great bosses do. So ask questions, including the following.

Ask “Why?”

When your more experienced peer does something you don’t understand, ask them about it. The answers you get will help you learn to analyze supervisory situations.

Ask “How?”

When you’re facing a situation that puzzles you, ask for advice. The answers you get will help you master the “hows” of being a great boss.

Ask “How did I do?”

You’ll learn better and more quickly if you seek and absorb feedback on your performance. Ask your more experienced peer to tell you how he or she thinks you did and how you can do better next time. The answers you get will help you accelerate up the learning curve.

Boss’s Bottom Line

The experience and wisdom of your peers can help you become a better boss sooner.

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