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Peer Learning at Work: A Manager’s Guide

Peer Learning at Work: A Manager’s Guide

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💡 What is peer learning?

Peer learning (aka peer-to-peer learning, aka collaborative learning) is an education model that takes place outside of the traditional teacher/student or manager/direct report framework. In peer learning, participants take on the roles of both the learner and the trainer. They collaborate, exchange ideas, discuss concepts, and provide feedback to deepen each other's knowledge on a topic at hand.

When someone on your team gets stumped, how do they usually get unstuck?

Google or YouTube it? Maybe. Ask ChatGPT? More and more likely. Tap into your internal knowledge base, corporate training program, or questionably accurate/organized wiki—and walk away without what they need to succeed? Probably the most common scenario of all.

It’s no wonder that over 50% of workers turn to their peers for help first—second only to asking their bosses. According to the 70-20-10 model, 90% of learning ultimately happens on the job from peers and managers.

Peer-to-peer learning is on the rise, and we’re here for it—with a caveat. Scroll down to see:

  • 7 benefits to peer learning
  • What most people get wrong about peer-to-peer learning 
  • 8 strategies for more effective peer learning

Peer-to-peer learning benefits

Whether you’re a hiring manager, a training manager, or both, you can’t be everywhere at once. 

To build skills at scale—and leverage and grow your company’s institutional knowledge—you need people to learn from each other. Easily and regularly.

Enter peer learning.

A Tango-branded graphic summarizing 7 benefits to peer learning.

1. Peer-to-peer learning leads to more comprehensive understanding ✅

What’s one way to make sure you have a handle on something? Try teaching it to someone else. 

A graphic showing the four stages of a popular learning model called the Feynman Technique.

When multiple teammates put their heads together, understanding doesn’t just deepen for the learners. The same thing happens for subject matter experts, as different people in the group bring their unique background, experiences, and points of view. 

Any differing opinions lead to critical thinking, analysis, and synthesis of information, which typically create broader (more informed, diverse, and empathetic) knowledge of topics at hand. In the process, people often become more aware of their own thinking processes, strengths, and weaknesses, which results in even more comprehensive understanding. 

2. Peer learning is often more relevant 👍🏾

Just 12% of employees claim they use the knowledge acquired through training to do their job.

When it comes to real-world applicability, peer learning offers an undeniable leg up. Peers can share their personal experiences, processes, pro tips, and practical examples in-real time—making the content more contextual, relatable, and (immediately) applicable.

Peers may also have a more accurate read on the latest trends, developments, and information within their fields of interest. Which helps ensure that new knowledge (which may escape formal training materials) becomes part of the lexicon and learning experience. 

3. Peer-to-peer learning develops soft skills and creates confidence 🫶🏿

Think of all the skills at work that can’t be learned independently. 

How to manage teams. Share ideas. Listen actively. Influence decisions. Provide constructive feedback. Resolve conflict. We learn how to do these things socially, while we’re interacting with others, typically through informal learning.

What’s a byproduct of all that soft skill development? More confidence.

There are two primary reasons for this:

  • A positive feedback loop → When peers receive positive reinforcement, validation, and recognition for their contributions or achievements from others, it reinforces their belief in their own abilities.
  • Self reflection and self-efficacy As learners participate in discussions, collaborate with teammates, and contribute to the collective learning experience, they witness their own progress and growth. Over time, as they overcome challenges, expand their knowledge, and realize their ability to learn and adapt, their beliefs about their capacity to tackle new learning tasks and succeed grow. 

4. Peer learning promotes collaboration and camaraderie 👯‍♀️

Think about the best job you’ve had to date. Were you part of a tightly knit team? Were the people your favorite part? 

If yes and yes, then you know how powerful a team-first mentality and sense of camaraderie can be.

Peer learning doesn’t just knock down information silos and increase collective knowledge. It also helps people:

  • Drive cross-functional alignment
  • Build a supportive network of peers who can provide guidance and encouragement
  • Develop new skills in a safe space 
  • Shine the spotlight on others and celebrate each other’s wins
  • Feel more engaged and connected to their work 

5. Peer-to-peer learning is a force multiplier for knowledge sharing and on the job learning 💪🏽

The lion’s share of systems we have to share knowledge at work are…not great

What are many of us up against, on any given day?

  • Most processes aren’t documented, so we can’t find what we need
  • What *is* documented is usually too wordy or long-winded, so it’s not easy to follow
  • Existing documentation is hard to update, so it’s either inaccurate or about to be inaccurate
  • Nothing is where it should be, so searching for answers is frustrating and time consuming
  • Process documentation is stored separately from insights that drive operational excellence, so learning on the job is much harder than it should be 

What makes learning on the job significantly easier (besides a free Chrome extension beloved by 350,000+ people 😁)? The ability to learn from peers.

When you build peer learning into 1) your onboarding process and 2) your ongoing approach to employee development, you can transform your team’s ability to transfer knowledge and learn on the job.

6. Peer learning is a cost effective way to bridge the skills gap 👀

Nothing like a couple of stats to highlight a challenge looming on the horizon, right?

Fun facts:

  • Nearly one-third of employers agree that the skills gap has increased from a year ago, with 87% of employers reporting they’re having trouble finding qualified talent as a result.
  • According to The World Economic Forum, 40% of workers’ core skills will change in the next five years, and 50% of all employees will need reskilling. 
  • Half of HR professionals surveyed in a 2023 report on closing the skill gap believe that hard skills have a shelf life of just two years in the current job market. 

This spells trouble for businesses—or opportunity, depending on whether you’re glass half-empty or glass half-full. 

Here are a few reasons peer learning should make you feel more optimistic. 👇

Peer learning:

  • Taps into knowledge and skills already in your organization, so you can avoid the costs associated with hiring external experts (especially as reskilling and upskilling demands rise)
  • Relies on interactive discussions, knowledge sharing, and practical application, so you can minimize investments in physical training spaces, content development, printed materials, etc.
  • Scales easily, so you accommodate a larger number of learners without added costs and encourage a culture of continuous learning

7. Peer-to-peer learning leads to better learning outcomes 🙌  

We often say that knowledge is most valuable when it’s shared. But we could easily swap “shared” for “retained,” “recalled,” or “applied.” 

Peer learning checks all those boxes, and leads to improved learning outcomes by encouraging active rather than passive participation, which:

  • Builds frameworks for understanding and recall later on
  • Improves information retention, comprehension, and long-term memory
  • Creates accountability and motivation to keep contributing over time

The list of benefits (and reasons to encourage) peer-to-peer learning is long. But not all peer learning is created equal.

8 strategies for more effective peer learning

When done well, peer-to-peer learning can break through some of the biggest barriers to skill-building. So what separates select peer learning methods from the rest?

A few things (plus a free tool that makes them all possible).👇

A Tango-branded graphic summarizing eight strategies for more effective peer learning.

1. Capture top performers’ expertise (and what should be team-wide SOPs!) while they work 

If the information, ideas, and insights powering your business live mostly in the heads of your subject matter experts, you aren’t alone. AND—your team's hard earned knowledge is trapped with your all stars instead of readily accessible to everyone.

Research shows companies typically have less than half of their processes documented. That’s not so surprising when you consider that creating documentation is usually time-consuming, tedious, and thankless—and requires multiple tools, special skills, and an entirely separate (read: additional) workstream.

So how can you get people to document what they know? By showing them a way to quickly capture their best practices while they work, without any extra time or effort.

With Tango, you just open your free browser extension, click the capture button and walk through a process the way you normally would. When you’re done, Tango automatically converts your process into an on-screen walkthrough for your peers and an interactive how-to guide for your knowledge base.

Turn individual knowledge into collective knowledge, in seconds 🕺

2. Swap ineffective documentation for interactive walkthroughs with clear learning objectives 

When your teammates are stuck and trying to get sh*t done, which do you think they’d rather use to find the answers they need: 

  • A 20-page PDF created a year and a half ago that’s 99% walls of text and 1% poorly formatted screenshots (containing who knows what)
  • A 12-minute video without time stamps to help them skip straight to what they need 
  • An on-screen, interactive walkthrough that shows them exactly where to click and what to do

If you sounded the buzzer on the third bullet, you don’t even need to read our research about how people do and don’t like to learn.

With Tango, how-to guides and SOPs aren’t just easy, fast, and fun to make. They’re equally ✨ to follow—correctly and consistently, by everyone across the team.*

See how it works:

*Note: To experience Tango to the fullest, your team will need Tango’s free Chrome extension, a Tango account, and an invitation to your Workspace. 

3. Take knowledge sharing, real-time application, and on the job learning to the next level with Guidance

You can’t make peer learning more effective without making knowledge sharing more effective. And you can’t make knowledge sharing more effective without taking real-time application and on the job learning up a few notches.

You already know that Tango makes it possible for subject matter experts to capture what they know while they work. But what if we told you it’s also possible for their peers—who are learning—to access and apply that knowledge immediately, without stopping to search for it? 💡

When you visit a website or SaaS tool and there’s a relevant Tango available, your Tango extension will light up to let everyone know Guidance is available.

A screenshot of Tango's extension discovery in action.

Click the Tango extension, and all step-by-step instructions for that website or SaaS tool will pop up in the same place. What’s the result? 

On a micro level:

Teams can quickly 1) find and 2) action the information they need—without needing to interrupt their peers or ask someone to show them how to perform a task they already demonstrated on a screen share a while back. 

On a macro level:

It becomes much easier to learn on the job and retain new information when everyone can:

  • Stop wasting time searching for answers  
  • Put new knowledge into practice ASAP 
  • Find success in seconds

4. Deliver procedural knowledge and crowdsourced peer insights together—in context and at the moment of need

In most organizations, instructions about how to click through software to perform a task are stored in different places than insights from teammates about how to perform those processes at an elite level. 

The former is usually in how-to documentation stored in knowledge bases. The latter is often in learning management systems, recorded team meetings, and Slack threads. Neither of them are delivered in context, at the exact moment needed to finish executing without friction.

You already know you can use on-screen guidance to help people find the right answers, in the right place, at the right time. With Callouts, you can also:

  • Leverage contextualized insights crowdsourced from experienced co-workers, without pulling them away from their own work
  • Clearly see which points in a process will make the difference between success and failure
  • Improve your craft without having to comb through dense documents or watch long videos

A screenshot of Callouts to catch people's attention and help your whole team work the way your top performers work.

Here are two real-life examples:

Department Sample Scenario Sample Callout
Sales Guidance for running a product demo for a prospective customer ⚠️ When you’re on step 16, avoid clicking the save button. We don’t want to overwrite the demo data set!
Engineering Guidance for merging pull requests ⛔ Before you merge your code on step 12, please get approval from a senior and a manager. To merge large PRs, you need two approvals.

5. Trade synchronous, point-in-time collaboration for asynchronous, continuous learning at scale

When the answers you need aren’t readily available through self-service, it’s natural to seek out help from peers. 

“Can you share your screen real quick” has become the most overused one-liner since March 2020, second only to “one second while I share my screen…” and “can you see my sCrEeEeEn?” 

You like screen sharing because it’s nice to get personalized help from an expert. But it’s also: 

  • Annoying to field multiple ad hoc screen share requests every day
  • Dependent on everyone’s ability to meet synchronously
  • Temporary, fleeting, and forgettable 

What’s far more scalable, as far as knowledge sharing solutions go? 

  • Enabling asynchronous learning with on-screen Guidance
  • Introducing a screen sharing alternative that encourages continuous learning
  • Accommodating a larger number of peer learners with multiple sharing options

6. Make it easy for participants to reflect on their learning, share feedback, receive constructive input from peers, and improve processes from the bottom up

At the risk of stating the obvious—peer learning isn’t just a one-way exchange. But the barrier to entry for documenting knowledge is so high that most people resort to the easiest methods possible (think verbally sharing an insight during a meeting vs. writing it down).  

With Viewer Feedback, teams can use Tango:

  • Convert reflections and observations on what they’re being taught into actionable feedback
  • Surface issues with a step in a process or share an insight that can help others perform the task better with Comments 
  • Notify the peer who created the Tango right away and prompt them to turn insights into Callouts with a few clicks

A screenshot of Tango's Comment feature, which makes it easy to crowdsource insights from your best sellers.

Two added bonuses? Comments take the burden off people to keep their processes up to date, saving them time. And by gathering insights from everyone on the team, collective knowledge becomes even more accurate and useful.

7. Go beyond knowledge capture, transfer, and application to complete the full learning loop with Guidance Analytics

Let’s focus on the part of the learning loop we haven’t talked about yet—how to see who’s using your Tangos, how often they’re being used, how successful they are in helping people through a process, and where people get stuck. 

With Guidance Analytics, you can do all four of those things—while surfacing and solving existing knowledge gaps.

With Views in Overview, you can track how many views your how-to guides have gotten during a trial period. You can filter by viewing channel (e.g. workflow page, Embed, Guidance Panel, Guidance Live) and date. 

A screenshot of Guidance Analytics, showing the Views in Overview dashboard.

With Guidance Completion in Overview, you can track completion rate (how many of your peers complete all the steps in your Tango), drop-off rate, and a detailed breakdown of where your co-workers are dropping off. 

Note: This dashboard is for Guidance use only. 

A screenshot of Guidance Analytics, showing the Guidance Completion in Overview dashboard.

With Viewers in Viewer Activity, you can see who’s using your Tangos and how often:

A screenshot of Guidance Analytics, showing the Viewers in Viewer Activity dashboard.

With Guidance Progress in Viewer Activity, you can see where your teammates are getting stuck—and reach out to help them get sh*t done.

A screenshot of Guidance Analytics, showing the Viewers in Viewer Activity dashboard.

With access to usage trends over time, you have real data to show the impact being made on specific business processes through peer learning.

8. Help teams stay in flow, do less context-switching, and get more work done

Where do the majority of peer learning solutions fall short? On three fronts. They pull people out of the flow of work, exacerbate the need to context-switch, and slow productivity.

With Tango, everyone can stay focused on the task at hand—and quickly move onto more impactful work.

A screenshot from Tango of an interactive walkthrough telling 
you exactly what to do and where to click, without ever leaving your screen.

The bottom line

The best way to create a learning culture, increase operational excellence, and future-proof your business is already inside your building. (Literally or metaphorically, if you’re 100% remote.)

Viewing your people as your most valuable asset isn’t a new idea. But there *are* some new ways to think about peer learning.

Peer learning isn’t just about onboarding, upskilling, and reskilling. It’s also about:

  • Creating an environment that’s conducive to peer-to-peer learning
  • Streamlining how knowledge gets captured, shared, applied, and optimized 
  • Equipping teams with the tools they need to do their best work

To set up a peer learning program that sticks and helps everyone hit their goals, here’s a recap of what’s important. 👇

Documentation before Tango 😑 Documentation with Tango 😎
Tedious and time-consuming Instantaneous
A task on top of the task Two birds with one scone
Walls of text and wonky visuals Step-by-step instructions with perfectly formatted screenshots
A dreaded chore A routine delight


What is an example of peer learning?

A content marketing manager named Namita creates an interactive walkthrough explaining how to adjust the height and width of an iframe embed code in Webflow. She shares it with her coworker Tom, who runs through the process on his own and finds a way to condense three of the steps. Tom submits feedback to Namita, who quickly turns Tom’s comments into callouts to help others perform the process more efficiently in the future.

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