This page is a collection of resources for running a peer group within a company. It's particularly focused on groups for senior individual track in technology (staff plus), but may be useful to others. It is a companion to my Staff Plus New York talk on peer groups and blog post, and is based on conversations with a number of people who run peer groups at different companies. I will periodically add more resources. Briefly, a peer group is a collection of your peers. In this case the groups are focused on staff plus engineers, helping members get better at their jobs. If you use these resources, please consider sharing your experiences in the form discussed below.
Guidelines for Forming a Staff Plus Peer Group
- Get the scope right: Not too big, not too small
- Self-organize: The group should be run by members of the group
- Provide Value: The group should be serving the purposes of the members.
Get The Scope Right
Smaller Points and Suggestions for Peer Groups
- Give people a choice to belong
- We invite new people to join our group, but do not add them unless they specifically accept and ask to join. Everyone has actively chosen to join our community, helping to form a shared identity for the group.
- This extends to giving everyone a choice in how much to participate in the group. We have no formal leadership, and everyone can choose how much they want to participate. This gives everyone in the group an equal voice, further increasing the shared identity of the group.
- Have a private forum for people to talk and air their grievances.
- This is a follow on to the "Provide Value" item above. In order for people to comfortably talk and complain, they need a safe environment to do so. For us, that is our slack channel and our calls. Other groups have a public slack channel, but still have some private forum.
- Make it easy to join, participate, and contribute to the group
- External groups have to develop their own cultures and codes of conducts. Internal groups hopefully have a strong company culture to lean on. Use it and avoid reinventing.
An Incomplete List of Group Activities
- Informal discussions and get togethers
- Slack discussions
- Informal talks: someone gets up in front of a white board and answers questions on a topic (no prep)
- Formal talks: Prepared talk on a topic relevant to the group. Can be from people internal or external to the group
- Mentoring programs
Share Your Experiences
Links on Peer Group and Learning Circles
- Forbes: 13 Tactics That Ensure Your Peer-To-Peer Group's Success
- Will Larson: Communities of learning
- Will Larson: Why not create a StaffEng Slack or Discord?
- Nice list of issues to try to avoid
- Stanford: What is Peer Learning and Why is it Important?
- Google re:Work -- Employee to Employee Learning
- Scott Triglia: How to Build and Scale a Staff+ Engineering Community
- Charity Majors: How To Run a Tech Leadership Skill Share