Peer coaching: Ready...set...go.
Is your team ready for peer coaching? Tim Wright sets the scene.
Peer coaching can enhance the recognition and willingness to adopt new ways of working in 2021. Peer coaching is a low-profile activity that is easy to initiate and demands little promotion. At the same time, it is can be an effective way to develop and support behaviours, skills, and values meaningful to ever-changing work.
When the pandemic is over, changes in how you, your team and your organisation work will continue, perhaps faster and bigger. Those changes will require:
- Recognising the behaviours and skills the changes require
- Adapting to those behaviours and developing the skills.
Peer coaching answers those requirements. Your familiarity with your particular situation can support peer coaching for your team.
The benefits peer coaching provides
A list of every peer coaching advantage, were it possible, would be extensive. These major benefits have value for any organisation.
- Productivity results from peer coaching immediately thanks to short steps taken on a frequent basis.
- Leadership skills develop subtly as coaching is leading. Becoming a better coach means becoming a better leader.
- Teamwork skills are improved and practised outside throughout one’s work, even if not the intent of the coaching.
- Accountability results from sharing with one’s peers the progress made, obstacles confronted, and suggestions for success.
Initiating an effective peer coaching programme is not difficult, with attention to specific practices that set the stage, get it started, and monitor progress.
Setting the stage
Determine the programme structure by setting the logistics in advance and removing complications. Decide whether the peer coaching teams will meet as pairs or triads. Pairs may learn to work in harmony faster than triads. Triads can provide the efficiency of rotation coaching: A coaches B, B coaches C, C coaches A.
Decide if the teams will be assigned or self-chosen. This may affect your outcomes. Long-time friends may quickly pair off, yet being objective, candid coaches for one another may be difficult. On the other hand, do you have time and familiarity with your team to make the best pairings?
Specify the frequency and duration, say weekly meetings for three months. A completion date offers comfort, and it certainly may be extended. An established meetings cadence sets a rhythm and promotes progress for your entire team.
Get your programme started
Skills developed in advance will strengthen the actual coaching by firmly grounding the participants’ interactions.
Unless you have a team-wide objective like using new software or understanding a new reporting structure, everyone can determine their own objectives. To zero in on the coaching, individuals should know what their partners’ want to achieve.
As you allow each peer team to set their own guidelines, you want to spur their thinking with examples such as: sharing expectations, respecting confidentiality, and conversing courteously (no interruptions, controlling the talk, sarcasm).
Hold advance training on the two arts of coaching: giving feedback and receiving feedback. Giving and receiving feedback can each be covered in a half-hour. Be willing to review and refresh as needed.
Giving feedback involves stating the specific feedback subject, giving observed details, and inviting questions and responses to insure clear reception. Receiving feedback involves keeping in mind the desired coaching, listening patiently, repeating what’s heard, and verifying accuracy.
Keeping it going...successfully
While your programme will likely run on its own momentum, these steps insure ongoing progress.
- Ask participants, 'How is your peer coaching going?' often to keep it part of everyday conversation. That raises its value in everyone’s mind. The more the value is known and shared, the more it is realised.
- Create ways participants share peer coaching results. An email every Thursday afternoon subjected 'Gained from this week’s coaching (Reply to all)' underscores the intention and the business value.
- Ask questions that focus on success. 'How is peer coaching enhancing your productivity? Leadership? Confidence?' Hearing others’ successes broadens everyone’s appreciation of peer coaching.
Summary and reminders
Reread the benefits a peer coaching programme delivers. Consider the minimum effort required to set up and maintain your successful programme. The return from your team’s investment can be substantial.
About the author
Tim Wright is a commuications consultant at Dell Technologies.
- Unleash the power of peer coaching; Chief Learning Officer, Aaron Hurst
- How to Get Your Team to Coach Each Other; HBR, Steward D. Friedman
- 5 Steps to Create a Continuous Learning Culture Based on Peer Coaching; CMS Wire, Steffen Maier
- Pear Coaching Is Powerful for Leadership Development; FlashPoint, Linda Dausend
- Peer Coaching: Benefits and Best Practices; AIHR Digital, Neelie Verlinden
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