Peer Groups

Membership to peer groups has been the most effective way I’ve been able to get feedback on new ideas and discuss difficulties, as well as helping me to create new policies. I attribute much of our business success to such memberships.

A peer group in a business context is a group of people who share a common commitment to improving their organisations and have a similar status, normally as owners or managing directors.

Peer groups can be comprised of different business types or specific to one industry or profession.

My first experience of peer groups was over twenty years ago. At that time I was unhappy with my previous firm and my peer group helped me articulate my concerns and formulate the beginnings of Sobell Rhodes. Since then I’ve continuously been a member of peer groups.

There are seven main reasons for joining a peer group:

  1. Strategic focus: Peer groups take you away from the operational side of your business and help you to look at the bigger picture
  2. Experienced business people: Your peer group can become like a board of directors. Regardless of whether they are from your industry or not, many of them will have had similar issues and problems to you and are therefore very well qualified to give you impartial and valuable advice. Similarly, from your own knowledge and experience you will be able to advise others, so it\’s very much a giving and receiving experience.
  3. Network expansion: As bonds in your group strengthen your network of connections will grow to include group members and also their connections.
  4. Benchmarking: If you\’re in a peer group with members from your own industry you can benchmark your financial results and performance drivers. In this way you\’ll be able to track your own success and increase your motivation.
  5. New knowledge: Peer groups often invite outside experts to present subjects of common interest? Also, other members\’ varying experiences, expertise and skills will expand your own knowledge and abilities.
  6. Removing the sense of isolation: As the head of an organization it can sometimes feel very lonely. Additionally, it can be difficult to confide with family and employees when it comes to discussing sensitive business issues.  In a peer group you know everyone is in the same position as you, they have no personal axe to grind and will give you their candid and honest opinions.
  7. Confidentiality: The Chatham House Rule normally applies – ‘what’s said in the room, stays in the room’ and therefore confidentiality can be assured.

If you or other readers would like guidance on finding the ideal peer group for you, feel free to contact me.

By Andrew Rhodes

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