Peer support can make a huge difference in the workplace. We all want to get on with our Managers, and those whom we manage, but this is a very different relationship to the one that we have with our peers.
By peers I mean people who are working for the same organisation at the same level as us, or ones working for a similar organisation or another branch in a similar role. No one will quite ‘get it’ when we are talking about a work issue, like our peers. Hence these people are a wonderful source of support.
Whilst I was working for Victim Support as Deputy Manager a colleague formed a support group for Deputy Managers, which I joined and found hugely beneficial and useful, having a regular place and time to meet and share issues, and people I built working relationships with whom I could call on for help and advice between meetings.
A few years later I found working at a Volunteer Centre as Deputy Director challenging and isolating at times as I wasn’t the person at the top, the CEO, yet wasn’t ‘one of the gang’ either. I, therefore, started a support group for Volunteer Centre Deputy Directors and Managers, and we met on a regular basis, keeping in touch between meetings, running work issues by each other and giving support on the phone outside of the meetings as required.
As with my previous experience this was an extremely useful resource, and a way to build strong working relationships with peers, share information and help each other with challenging issues. Some of these working relationships developed into valuable friendships.
I would highly recommend, therefore, creating and nurturing peer support networks, as this can be invaluable on many levels, and gives a unique kind of comfort and reassurance that is not available from line Managers or other colleagues.