In my previous few blogs, I attempted to write about different aspects pertaining to coaching like ROI on coaching, the differences between leadership coaching and psychotherapy, how to differentiate between leadership coaching and training, etc.

I now attempt to explore two not-so-frequently used ways of leadership coaching that are highly beneficial to individuals as well as organizations. They are peer coaching and reverse coaching. These have been less leveraged and organizations must encourage both actively.

Peer Coaching

Peer coaching is a collaborative leadership coaching approach where individuals in the same or similar industry work together to share ideas, learn new skills, and deepen their learning. They engage in problem-solving and innovation which can be termed as peer coaching.[/su_quote]

The counterparts need not be limited to the same workplace. It involves peers who are typically in the same position in a workplace engaging in a coaching relationship to enhance their knowledge and performance. Peer coaching offers a supportive environment where peers learn from each other.

What does peer coaching look like?

Example 1

Ratan who leads a small businessline is getting coached by a peer in his workplace in speaking publicly at a big industry conference. Sushil is great at making PowerPoint presentations and holding his own on stage in the spotlight. Sushil supports Ratan to go over his presentation.

They practice together and Sushil provides feedback on the slide deck and how Ratan is speaking. They try out various questions and discuss tips that help Ratan stay calm and know his strengths.

[su_quote]Peer coaching is not only about getting mentored by a peer or them giving you ideas for success. It is about upskilling you or providing you with knowledge that you build and actively use in your role.[/su_quote]

How can peer coaching succeed?

Peer coaching can succeed only if a structure is in place. To ensure the success of peer coaching it is essential to pay attention to the following aspects.

Example 2

Divya Amarnath, a coach and L&D professional shared her experience of enhancing e-learning at scale using peer coaching. To manage a specific learning topic for example ‘ Managing time for Innovation’, cross-functional peers were invited to coach each other.

They were also asked to find a project to which each of them could bring their functional expertise to.

This example illustrates some of the points below.

  1. A shared Purpose
    For peers of a workplace to come together for coaching there must be a shared purpose. This could be to learn or innovate or to simply gain insights. Once the purpose of peer coaching is established in a workplace, it is easier for the concerned individuals to take it further and get involved deeply in the process.

2. Well-defined goals and outcomes

For any leadership coaching to succeed it is essential for the coachee to set out with well-defined achievable goals that leads to visible outcomes. Peers engaging in the coaching activities too must have actionable goal plans that result in outcomes for themselves and their organization.

3. Overall alignment with the organizational goal or a professional goal

Seeking peer coaching within the organizational structure cannot be unaligned with the overall broader goals of the company. Like in the example at times a peer may be coaching another on a professional competence like communication.

4. Compatibility

The area of peer coaching is that of trust and compatibility. It wouldn’t be possible for peers who do not share trust or have communication issues to be paired up as peer coaches. To be able to open up to a peer in a workplace requires effective communication, active listening, and trust.

5. Progress and accountability

The effectiveness of peer coaching lies in the progress that is achieved during the sessions and the work that happens outside of it too. Regular monitoring of the progress, providing relevant feedback, and the self-accountability of the peer coaches ensure the success of the peer coaching program.

Benefits of peer coaching

The advantages that peer coaching in a workplace can bring to the individuals and the organization are many. Peer coaching if conducted in a well-planned way resonates positively in the organization culture or team culture.

  1. Learning and perspective development

Teaming up with peers provides an opportunity for support that enables learning. It is empowering and motivating to learn from one’s own. It allows for different perspectives to grow on each other. The learning process automatically becomes a shared learning where both parties tend to benefit from each other

2. Self-reflection and a view on self-performance

Peer coaching in a workplace provides an ample opportunity to reflect and ponder upon one’s thought process while working with someone on par with us. It enables one to engage in a 360* self- appraisal of one’s own work performance in the context of working with a peer thereby increasing self-awareness.

3. Collaboration across teams and workplace engagement

An effective way to have collaboration across functional teams is peer coaching. While there is communication happening it also results in the engagement of the workplace in a productive manner that sets the path of learning.

The peers collaborate with each other to gain valuable insights into how their respective teams might be functioning along with the communication flow that happens.

4. An environment of trust and a support system

As a peer coach, trust builds among colleagues. There is improved communication among teams. Peers support each other as they engage in coaching. Soon employees find themselves having a strong network of peer support and guidance system in place.

5. Accountability and feedback

Peer coaches tend to hold each other accountable for their goal achievements and the actions leading up to the achievements.

Honest feedback flows between peers and allows scope for powerful questions and observations on performance outcomes. The arising feedback loop provides for self-reflection and self-accountability.

If wrought accurately peer coaching in a workplace provides much required support system.

Watch out for part 2 of this blog where I discuss another lesser leveraged coaching approach.

Sailaja Manacha
Sailaja Manacha

Sailaja Manacha, a Master certified Coach from ICF, is known for her programs and coaching methods that combine psychology with leadership practices. In her work, Sailaja draws from Psychology, Ontology, NLP and Spiritual frameworks as well as rich, real-world experiences.

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