Peer advisory groups run the gamut, from informal circles of friends who talk on the phone every day to more formalized approaches like online forums where people meet periodically at the same time every week or month.
The goal of peer advisory groups is the same: Foster each other’s growth.
As a business leader or business owner, growth can lead to more revenue and more profits for your company.
But, like startups, some peer advisory groups are more effective than others. Take a look at the seven secrets of highly effective peer advisory groups as you find one that’s right for you.
But first, we’ll look at the main characteristics of peer advisory groups in a business setting.
Characteristics of Peer Advisory Groups
Your chosen peer advisory group should have the following characteristics to be the most effective.
A peer advisory group:
- Has something in common among members, like a specialty, such as a lawyer, doctor, or manufacturer, a similar status like a CEO or mid-level manager, or a geographic location like a city or region.
- Contains 6 to 10 people.
- Meets regularly (weekly, monthly, quarterly).
- Is facilitated by one person during each meeting, which can rotate among members.
- Follows a format during each meeting.
- Fosters open communication among members.
Once a peer advisory group forms, the rest is just details. You can meet over coffee once a week, have an online forum, or meet over Zoom.
But to be truly effective, members of the group must function as effective individuals among their peers. These seven traits of highly effective peer advisory groups are the key to their success.
7 Secrets of Highly Effective Peer Advisory Groups That Foster Success
Not all peer advisory groups are built the same. To be successful, keep in mind these traits that everyone should have within the group.
1. Commitment Equals Success
When everyone in the group commits wholeheartedly to its principles, format, and ideals, it becomes much more fulfilling for everyone. Just like you fully commit to an idea you’re passionate about, this same principle applies to a peer advisory group. If you’re going to do something, go all in. Yes, there are ups and downs in life and in your professional growth, but you always persevere through the more difficult times because it matters to you. Your peer advisory group should matter to you, even if you only devote one hour a month to it. Give that one hour its undivided attention and your full commitment. When everyone does this, the success is apparent.
2. Foster Diversity
You’ve seen all sorts of statistics that say diversity among the people in your business leads to higher profits and higher revenue. Diversity among your peer advisory group also leads to success. You can’t grow if everyone has the same background, same opinions, and same life status. Consider diversifying your peer advisory group as much as you can while making sure everyone can still relate to each other on some level. Yes, you’re all CEOs or mid-level managers, but after that, having diverse backgrounds can help all of you grow past your inherent biases, preconceived notions, or regular routines.
3. Be Frank, Honest, and Vulnerable
Everyone in your peer advisory group has gone through some of the same experiences. From firing someone they really wanted to succeed and navigating a crisis in the organization to seeing profits soar and landing a huge client, business leaders have a bond that only they would understand among their peers.
And because there are no intrinsic ties to one another’s businesses, each member of the peer advisory group can be frank, honest, and vulnerable in their interactions.
Think of this aspect as, “What is said among the group stays in the group.”
When someone asks about something negative or some sacrifice that a business leader made, the best course is to be truly honest about a situation. For example, a business owner says, “Yes, my company is profitable now, but there were times when I had to choose between paying for my car or paying for food.” But then there are lessons in that scenario wherein the business owner overcame that to be wealthier.
The peer advisory group allows business leaders to let their guard down. It’s also one of the main tenets of The Great Game, with open book management and full transparency. This doesn’t mean you should lay your emotions out for everyone in the company every day. But open-book management does mean having frank, open, and honest conversations without repercussions among team members.
4. Speak From Experience
Experience is the best teacher. A peer advisory group is a way to share each other’s experiences. One person may discuss what it was like working with a friend or family member in the same company or department. Other members of the group can weigh the ups and downs of that because they’ve experienced a similar situation, and they give their expertise.
5. Back-Up Your Advice With Sound Reasoning
Business owners need to know why something happens, not just how. When you give your advice to your peer advisory group, you need to back it up with sound reasoning.
For instance, during lean times, you said you cut profit margins to keep everyone on board. Your reasoning was that it would take more effort and energy to rehire anyone you let go, which would stunt your company’s growth as you rebuild from the lean times. While not every business owner would agree with that philosophy, loyalty from workers because they want to work for your company is something you may not be able to put a value on.
6. Give First Without Expectations
In the business world and in relationships in general, there is give and take. Hires get paid an hourly rate, and they work the schedule they’ve been given.
However, you might consider your peer advisory group a holiday gift exchange. You place your gift on the table without any expectation of what gift you might get in return. Your chosen gift is thoughtful and classy, and it speaks to someone who is professional.
Once you lead by example and give your time, or in this case, a gift, to the peer advisory group, they will give back to you at some point. It would be wrong to expect you to learn a huge lesson within just a few meetings of your group. Like any good sports team, it takes a few practices to gel and then win games.
7. Be Thankful for Your Peer Advisory Group
Peer advisory groups are volunteer efforts. Yet, they can be extremely valuable when utilized properly. You’ll hear a lot of advice, and some of it may not be what you want to hear. But you need to hear it. Being a business leader is complicated. You make sacrifices. You’re unsure of the outcomes of the decisions you make. Do you have regrets? Possibly. Are there decisions you wish you would have done differently? Probably.
But you are sure of one thing: This is where you want to be.
Live in the moment of being a part of your peer advisory group and show gratitude for it. Yes, you may get your nerves rattled. Yes, you may feel uncomfortable with what someone tells you. But all of you believe in the mission of being a business leader for whatever reasons. Cherish these times because they can serve as a sounding board for success.
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