The Power of Peer Coaching
The workplace is built upon a culture of asking for advice and offering advice. Often, we hear the refrain, “Here’s what I would do in your situation” and “I had the same problem and what worked for me was…” Sometimes, we say those things ourselves.
When we feel stuck, asking for and receiving advice can provide ready fixes for whatever challenge we are facing ¾ how to handle conflict on the team, dealing with an employee who is underperforming, developing the confidence to speak up at management meetings and mitigating work burnout. But for sustained leadership growth, peer coaching holds the key to powerful change, helping employees develop the knowledge, skills, and leadership competencies they need to become effective leaders.
A peer coaching program brings together a small group of up to six people who meet on a regular basis over Zoom or Teams along with a certified coach who acts facilitator.
To ensure the right environment for self-discovery, the group first defines the norms for learning together they would like to adopt. Norms like “trust”, “what is discussed in the room stays in the room”, “everyone has a voice” and “mutual respect” are frequently identified.
Members of the group take turns describing an issue or challenge they would like help with. As they talk, everyone practices active listening. Once the person has finished talking, their colleagues ask “powerful” questions to help shine a light on the issue in different ways. Compare the following lines of questioning:
Did you speak to your employee about the problem? (a closed question)
What conversations could you be having with your employee that you have not yet had? (a powerful, open question)
Do you hear the difference? The closed question invites a “yes” or “no” response and does not lead into a new path of inquiry. The powerful question, on the other hand, invites new ways of looking at the issue.
At the end of the question period, everyone discusses what they have learned about themselves in the process of examining the issue. Lastly, the person who presented the issue commits to at least one action they will take to address their issue before the group meets again. At the next meeting, that person reports back on the results of the action they took.
If you are interested in exploring more how peer coaching can support your virtual teams, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org