At the close of coaching engagements, I help clients strategize how to pursue continued development without the structure of regularly scheduled coaching sessions. Given most people’s packed schedules, it’s easy for even those most committed to their own learning to lose momentum. One way to receive customized support in our development is through participation in a peer coaching group.
- In simplest terms, a peer coaching group involves a small number of colleagues who meet on a regular basis to support one another’s leadership development and high performance.
Ideally, a peer coaching group is comprised of four to five members—often including people who don’t know each other before joining. Groups typically meet in person or virtually for a few hours every 6 to 8 weeks. In meetings, participants take turns describing challenges they face and receiving suggestions, feedback and support from fellow members.
Potential benefits provided by a peer coaching group:
- Rich source of diverse perspectives and advice
- Access to members’ networks of contacts and resources
- Sense of community and comradeship (within and between group meetings)
Tips to help you to start a peer coaching group:
- Recruit members whom you trust, respect, and believe could contribute meaningfully. It’s also helpful to select people who you think will like each other—in peer coaching, chemistry counts.
- Schedule an introductory meeting to learn a bit about each other’s roles, challenges, and hopes for the group. Establish a few ground rules, including shared understanding of confidentiality. You can invite people to join or opt out after this initial session.
- Structure subsequent meetings to allow 30 minutes for each member to describe his/her challenges and receive coaching from other participants.
- Conduct an informal assessment at the close of the second or third meeting to identify what’s working well and how the group’s process can improve—an important step in any group’s healthy development.
Suggestions for effective peer coaching:
- Focus on inquiry over advocacy—ask thoughtful questions with a genuine desire to understand rather than trying to persuade others to adopt your point of view.
- Practice active listening—be mindful to hear the meaning of what others express and paraphrase your understanding.
- Be open to others’ perspectives—slow down to observe your assumptions and practiced ways of seeing things as you consider peers’ feedback and suggestions.
As an independent consultant, I speak from personal experience—peer coaching can be one of the most powerful and cost effective means to accelerate your development—I encourage you to give it a try!