Is Joining a Peer Group Right for You?

Early last year, somewhat reluctantly, I joined an industry specific peer group at the behest of our organization’s President. The decision to do so stemmed from ongoing analysis of our business and the ability to properly scale as the company grows. Surely similar organizations are dealing with the same challenges we find. We knew our goals were obtainable but the solutions were seemingly out of reach. When you cease to find answers, logic dictates it might be time to seek council from outside your comfort zone.

My reluctance to join the group stemmed from having to share industry trade secrets with potential competitors. However, this became less of a concern when I discovered we would not be grouped with other competitors from our region. The result, which has been measurably valuable, was informed and concise feedback from the group on how to handle a wide array of challenges. There is a sense of comfort in knowing you are not alone, as well as added motivation to tackle complex issues as your peers hold you accountable. Each quarter, we board another flight and spend days in a banquet room pouring over metrics, comparing technology offerings and mulling over personnel decisions. The exercise can be exhausting but generally, I find myself with a clearer vision on how to overcome the challenges our industry and market present.

Company growth is a catalyst for change. We knew we needed to adapt our service delivery to a growing list of clients but breaking from the way things have always been done was daunting. You may already have all the tools needed to move forward but cannot identify how to move the levers. Rather than finding a perfect solution from the group I came to learn there is more than one way to overcome an obstacle. We were not provided a model for how to structure our team, but rather a framework we could tailor to get the most out of our personnel and provide superior service to our clients.

Joining a peer group has proven to be a wise investment personally and professionally. We are all accustom to company imposed deadlines, whether generated internally or from clients, but being held accountable by your peers helps keep your focus in-line with your goals. As our workloads increase, it can become harder to see the forest through the trees. As we become mired in the day-to-day operations of the company it’s easy to lose sight of where you want to get to. A peer group can give you the tools needed to implement change for the better. It will not be easy or even necessarily fun but you just might begin to see your problems through a different lens. Sometimes it just takes a peer to nudge you in the right direction.