peer coaching for high performing cultures

You have a plan for how you’ll grow your marketing and sales efforts, but what about a People Plan—a plan for how you’ll facilitate, support, and measure employee engagement?

Talent-focused organizations have a People Plan that includes peer coaching.

Just as high-performing athletes benefit from a number of coaches, the same can be said for employees in high-performing organizations. Often times, however, when people talk about coaching in the workplace, they assume it only means the kind of coaching that a manager gives one of her direct reports. It also can be confused with training.

“Training is best suited to new material or with new employees. Its purpose is to introduce a concept or skill and give the employee a basic proficiency with that topic, which they will then take into practice on the job,” explains CSP (1).

Training is also often a one-time commitment or education that’s offered in a condensed format. On the other hand, peer coaching is an ongoing experience, and one that is typically less structured than training.

Coaching As a Critical Part of Your People Plan

While training is typically skills-oriented and often used to help orient employees to certain practices or standards, the purpose of coaching is to serve as a change catalyst and to develop talent over time. That happens, in part, through reflection and a focus on areas that an employee has the opportunity to grow or develop (1).

Coaching allows leaders/employees to identify and address the specific issues that training may have missed or that training would never allow for. And while managers certainly can perform coaching duties, often the best coaching is done by peers and colleagues.

The Power of Peer Coaching Across an Organization

Peer coaching—where two colleagues come together to share ideas, reflect, help one another and problem solve—can be done in a group setting or one-on-one. The person doing the coaching can feel satisfaction for helping a co-worker grow, and the person receiving the coaching can develop new skills, more self-awareness, and greater confidence. Both parties can benefit from sharing information, collaboration, and a sense of support that can occur during the peer coaching process.

Here are just a few of the other benefits of building peer coaching into your people plan.

It improves performance.

“Training aims to establish a well-informed, high-performing workforce. Coaching works to maintain it,” summarizes CSP.Businesses that can strategically create a culture of peer coaching may realize higher productivity and happier employees,” adds SkillPath.

The benefit of peer coaching is that it can help to motivate employees, and it also puts them in a position where they can help colleagues succeed: “Everyone’s success is in some way tied to that of another worker,” argues Skillpath (2).

It helps build a culture of trust.

David Hassell in the Huffington Post writes how one of the critical benefits (and keys to success) of peer coaching is the atmosphere that results. In particular, peer coaching can encourage a culture where people have the leeway to make calculated mistakes.

“There is a certain level of what is appropriate for both the employee and the company. The employee should experience some stress, eustress (positive stress) is good but distress can push people into failure. Use ‘sink or swim’, but don’t drown them,” explains Hassell (3). Without peer coaching, this kind of environment can be more difficult to cultivate.

It contributes to authentic relationships.

Sharing experiences and advice with colleagues can accelerate relationship-building and help to foster stronger working relationships. John Blakey, in HRZone, writes about the story of a leader who benefited from opening up: “As this CEO bared his soul, the group decided to get into the experience at a more intimate level. Here was one of their own out on a limb. Not just some fancy dan facilitator who they might never see again. In their hearts they got around their colleague and you could feel the compassion and care flood into the room…” (4).

Feedback Is King

The highest performing organizations understand that peer coaching is just one way to create a compelling culture. There’s a lot of upside to coaching, and it can complement the collection and analysis of ongoing feedback from employees in order to spot areas that can be improved and optimized across the organization.

Organizations that are best at creating compelling, high-performing cultures continuously work on improving the employee experience in ways that include:

  1. Sourcing and using employee feedback to develop people programs, processes, policies and more.
  2. Integrating the mission, purpose and values into the foundation of the company.
  3. Equipping leaders and managers with information, insights, development opportunities and tools to be as effective as possible.
  4. Empowering employees with the leadership, tools, resources, environment and culture to allow them to tap into their greatest potential (which is where peer coaching can fall under).

Without feedback, and action taken based on that feedback, all four of these activities are harder to gauge, measure, and facilitate as a company grows.

Getting Started With Peer Coaching

Skillpath explains how part of the key to success when implementing peer coaching as a part of your People Plan is to make sure both sides are dedicated to the process.

Employees need to “buy in” and be committed to the goals they set for themselves, and coaches also need to help co-workers meet goals, too.

Skillpath offers two questions that are effective at getting the ball rolling:

  1. What will happen if I do not change my current habits?
  2. What will happen if the journey is more difficult than I anticipated?

These two starter questions help to focus on the potential and what can be learned throughout the journey (2).

Use Your People Plan to Achieve Higher Performance

If you already are, or you want to become a talent-focused organization, Talmetrix is your ideal partner. Talmetrix powers your ability to measure, facilitate and improve company performance via employee feedback.

As a talent-focused organization, you’ll be able to use the insights to create and implement your People Plan, allowing you to:

  1. Build more capability and capacity for employees;
  2. Better engage, empower and educate employees on their responsibilities;
  3. Drive employee productivity and possibilities;
  4. Improve your ongoing knowledge about your culture.

Contact us today to start your free Employee Feedback Consultation with one of our Expert Advisors.

References

  1. http://www.csp.com/know-the-differences-between-employee-training-and-coaching/#.VRm32PnF8WY
  2. http://www.skillpath.com/index.cfm/blog/post/Teambuilding/Peer-Coaching-Can-Improve-Employee-Performance#sthash.pn19UhG2.mdZFJDkV.dpbs
  3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-hassell/management-20-coaching-employees-in-the-new-economy_b_6865732.html?
  4. http://www.hrzone.com/community-voice/blogs/blakeyj/the-joy-of-peer-group-coaching

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