Today we’re talking about a topic near and dear to my heart (and career) . . . Peer groups.
I am a huge peer group fan and have been for years. I first started attending peer groups back when I was a service manager, and they changed the trajectory of my career. It was the first place in the industry where I felt like I wasn’t alone. My peers had run into much of the same situations I was dealing with and I was able to share information back in the other direction too.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, peer groups allow several people (peers in any industry) to meet and share their knowledge and experiences with each other. In the MSP context there are peer groups for Owners/Principals, Service Managers, Project Managers, Security, Triage/Dispatch, and COOs. There are plenty of ways to slice it, so if you can imagine a peer group for a specific role/type of group you can probably find or create one.
What to look for in a peer group?
The first thing is to make sure you know the criteria for the group. Are the companies similarly sized as you? What about the maturity of those companies? Are there geographic conflicts? If so, does that matter?
It’s also a good idea to understand the logistics. How often does the group meet? Are there in-person meetings? What role does the facilitator play? How much does it cost?
Then focus on the expectations of the members. What does accountability look like? What happens if I miss a meeting? What types of homework are there? How do you prep for your first meeting? What about subsequent meetings?
How can I get the most out of my peer group experience?
I like to say that you must be present to win. You MUST to attend the meetings. It doesn’t matter if the meetings are in person or remote, if you aren’t there you aren’t getting the value. Also, you will have a much better experience if you actively participate in the meetings. Don’t sit quietly in the corner simply hoping that the conversation will bring you what you want. Participate, listen, teach, and absorb what’s going on.
These meetings are a prime time to work ON the business versus working in the business. For many, it might be the only time you have to work on the business. Prioritize the time.
You should also make sure to attend in-person meetings whenever possible. Don’t skip an in-person meeting because it’s inconvenient.
Peer Groups are about building relationships. Take the time to get to know your fellow members. Reach out to them, have one on one conversations. Encourage and participate in further discussions even outside your normal meeting cadence. This is the power of being in a peer group. You have other people you can bounce ideas, questions, and issues off of.
Where to get started?
There are a bunch of different peer group programs, but I’m partial to Pax8’s because I’m the program manager here in the US. That said, there are other good programs out there too.
Whew! That was a lot of stuff to cover in one of these short rambles. Peer groups will come up again. In the meantime, if you want to talk peer groups at all, I’m happy to make time to talk to you.