In the accounting profession, there is no shortage of opportunities for continuing education, but peer groups are a different type of opportunity that can contribute to your ongoing professional development, access to resources and pathway to important relationships.
There are plenty of conferences, webinars and in-firm trainings throughout the year. These are common opportunities and for continual learning they certainly have their place in our professional development.
But what is a peer group? It is a group of individuals who share similar interests and roles and meet to work toward common goals.
We believe so deeply in the importance of peer groups, we’ve built our entire organization around them. Currently, our organization oversees seven different peer groups serving the accounting profession.
While there are many benefits of being a member of a peer group, I’d like to focus just three:
1. The Benefit of Others That Have “Been There, Done that”
Nobody wants to recreate the wheel. There are better ways to spend time and money. However, we see many firms “spin their wheels” trying to solve a problem, unaware that a similar-sized firm just 300 miles away solved the same exact problem six months earlier. How much time and money would you save by having access to the knowledge and experience of firms that have struggled with the same challenges your firm is having?
At our various peer group meetings, members regularly show up with a few key objectives they are looking for help with. Inevitably, during the meeting, they get connected with other members who are working on the same problem or have recently found a solution. The connection to these relationships have exponential benefits to our members.
2. The Benefit of Peer Accountability
Sharing projects, desired results, actions steps and due dates for goals with peers strengthens commitment. It can be much more difficult to tell peers that the ball was dropped than it is to tell coworkers, especially when peers are expecting to hear about what was learned. Peers can more easily ask the tough questions and help align projects and expectations.
During these accountability conversations, we often uncover others with experience in projects that you are just starting. Identifying peers you can reach out to with questions between meetings helps keep projects moving forward, making achieving progress exponentially more likely.
3. The Benefit of Fun and Relationships
I’ve never met someone investing in a peer group that wasn’t a hard worker with lofty goals. Being a high-performer and interacting with other high-performers is fun and energizing. It’s a great way to stay positive by being reminded that you aren’t alone in experiencing challenges.
Most peer group members will tell you that there is just as much value in having dinner and drinks with like-minded peers as there is in attending the meetings. Truly getting to know peers increases the value of the relationships and the group and having fun along the way is a great byproduct.
While I could write many more pages on the power of being a member of a peer group, I will instead challenge you to find one and try out a meeting. Experiencing it for yourself is more powerful than anything you read in an article or blog post.
The original article appeared on the Boomer Consulting blog site.