Peer Coaching: Modeling the Coaching Community
With International Coaching Week taking place last month, it’s important to take a look at what the coaching community itself is doing as we continue to think about ways in which organizations can build a strong coaching culture. Today, let’s explore a common practice in the coaching community that can help organizations build a coaching culture from within: Peer Coaching.
What is Peer Coaching?
Peer coaching gathers together peers (often within an organization, but not always) to use critical coaching skills and offer non-judgmental support of others’ growth, in a community of colleagues who “understand” you and your industry.
In many ways, the coaching community is a model for this. This is a community built on, for, and by strong, healthy relationships. Coaches coach other coaches. A profession comprised of many independent contractors, these entrepreneurs depend on quality relationships in order to contribute their skills, constantly learn, share best practices, and build business.
The Value of Peer Coaching
Coaches recognize the imperative to add value when ever and where ever they can, and to strengthen relationships, new and old. For professional coaches, this community coaching comes naturally. They do this for a living, and it makes sense that they would take advantage of their community to develop and support one another.
What about organizations where these skills aren’t inherent to the job? What about when it doesn’t come so naturally?
The truth is that organizations can’t afford not to develop the capacity for peer coaching. Who doesn’t need to listen well? Who doesn’t need to be asked the right question to take the next step forward? Consider a new perspective to get clarity on an issue? Turn to a colleague for a sanity check? Peer coaching can help get straight to the core of building a healthy organizational culture that is supportive enough to withstand the vulnerability necessary for honest self-assessment, and focused on the intrinsic motivation needed to change behavior over the long-term. Positive behavior change is a performance improvement which everyone can benefit from.
What’s more, peer coaching can multiply its positive impact by modeling behavior for others. As peers coach one another, they take on a perspective that seeks to build the capacity of others and begin to use that perspective in regular interactions with their employees, and even their bosses. This makes the idea of performance improvement for themselves and their direct reports an opportunity to seek openly, rather than a stigma to avoid.
Finally, peers know they have a safe network to go back to when difficult situations arise. By using one another as peer coaches, individuals increase their likelihood of knowledge sharing across departments and domains, increase collaboration opportunities, and hone their skills to perform at the next level.
By training employees in fundamental coaching skills and encouraging the use of these skills with one another and their employees, peer coaching can help organizations embed the learning and shift the mindsets needed to have a strong coaching culture.