I have written a lot about teams and ways to effectively lead a team.  And the best teams I have ever worked with are those that are self-sustaining.  Meaning they need little to no outside leadership to keep running.  So how is this possible? One way is using Peer Reviews!

When you are working with a dynamic, fully functioning team, the best part about being on a team is that you have a group of individuals who bring the very best traits out in you and others.  Self-sustaining teams or those who strive to be self-sustaining will practice peer reviews.  This differs from traditional review where you are being reviewed by your manager or a 360 assessment where you are being reviewed by multiple levels of the organizations.  Peer reviews, are as the name implies, are a review by your peers, those on your team, within your department, or across departments, who have to interface with you on a regular basis but aren’t directly managing you.

A peer review is a  system that when utilized efficiently will help individuals to understand more about their abilities in working with others. It will provide insight into what are their behaviors and skills that their peers value and what are those areas that they may have challenges with.

For instance let’s say that you are working on a project with a detailed report and you may have researchers, analysts, data stewards, etc.  Each member brings a valuable ability to the team with behaviors that others value. Once members understand the perspectives of other team members, trust and respect can grow. And most importantly, development opportunities are uncovered. Some of these development opportunities can be addressed by team members mentoring each other, thus building a self-sustaining team.

Continuing with this team example, researchers may hand off information to analysts which is not beneficial because the researcher may not understand the goal of the project or believes that the more information the better.  And with a peer review in place, the analyst would be able to sit down with the researcher and mentor her about what is and is not important.  This would help the researched in the future and probably save time and the analyst could learn how to better delegate and ask for the information he or she really needs.

Peer review is a great tool to utilize and it will allow you as a leader to develop your team.  Not only are they learning skills from different departments, they are also learning what it means to mentor, manage, and develop as a leader.  You might feel uncomfortable at first stepping back for long periods of time while they lead each other, however I promise the benefits will be worth it in the long run. You will be developing future leaders which will allow you to take on new and rewarding responsibilities that you wouldn’t be able to do without a successor in line.

What are some skills that you feel should be learned across departments?

Image Credit: The Stock Exchange (www.sxc.hu) User: ljleavell