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peer to peer learning

Peer Coaching:The Hidden Tool To Retaining Top Talent In The Workplace

  • Omer Usanmaz
  • April 10 2022


Learning something new is the most exciting opportunity for people who are way past their college life or high school. However, learning and knowledge acquisition are lifelong processes and continue to take up a magnitude of importance in an individual's life. Life throws new challenges and lessons when an individual is around 24, as it is the time of life when college students complete their graduation and start looking for jobs. When students try occupations on for size by applying for jobs and internships, they think that their thirst for knowledge and learning recedes when they become working professionals.  

Moreover, managers in many organizations that were not prepared to meet the pandemic's challenges and ramifications are still trying to get into the swing of things. As a result, workers, including many executives and managers, are reporting a high level of stress and burnout, which would later affect the overall productivity and employee retention rate. Fortunately, there is an easy and permanent solution to this, and it is peer coaching—a new form of learning and teaching methodology in today's workplace.  

It is not uncommon for anyone who hears the word coach to automatically think of people who do sports coaching, where a coach trains and prompts a team of athletes to stay focused on the track. However, this form of coaching is almost similar to the various peer coaching models in a professional environment. Although there are many coaching strategies, the goal of a coach and coaching relationship is to nurture self-efficacy, leadership, and other soft skills in an employee.  

Numerous companies and organizations across multiple industries have already reaped the benefits of peer coaching. This article sheds light on the benefits of a peer coaching program and how an organization can implement an effective peer coaching program for their employees. 


Definition Of Peer Coaching 

Peer coaching is a form of learning in which people of equal status voluntarily participate and act as peer coaches with a desire to help the other person overcome it. This type of coaching can benefit in whatever environment that can offer a productive learning experience and professional learning resource. Moreover, this type of coaching process is highly successful and impactful because the participants do not have any form of authority over the other participants. 


Who Can Be A Peer Coach? 

As the coaching process is completely controlled by a peer who works in or outside your team, peer coaching is one of the coaching methods that do not have any major downsides to it. In peer coaching, everyone is a coach and also a learner. This might sound a bit informal, but the results it is designed to bring and contribute are undoubtedly peerless to any other form of learning or coaching. As there are no hard and fast rules in peer coaching and learning, becoming a peer coach is way simpler than finding a mentor for a mentorship training program. 

Your organization might consider some parameters for making someone a coach in its peer learning program. There are specific initiatives an organization might take to enhance the efficacy of peer coaching in its workplace, such as creating a peer coaching network, one-on-one coaching sessions, et cetera. 

Five Components Of Peer Coaching

In a typical peer coaching process, a coworker acts as a coach who helps his peers develop leadership skills and fill all the gaps in knowledge on specific tasks. Sometimes, a peer coach or mentor is someone the organization can be relied upon to foster a certain intangible skill in the workplace. Effective coaching is made of specific components that should not be overlooked for skill development and impactful peer coaching relationships. Below are the five components every peer coach or mentor should consider to ensure positive outcomes and skill enhancement:

Establishing And Maintaining Trust

Trust is the backbone and development element of any relationship. In fact, the real nature of peer coaching is founded on trust because an employee coaching another employee transitions from a friend to a mentor. For this reason, trust is indispensable for healthy and productive peer coaching relationships. Many professional coaches believe that being honest and dependable matters the most, especially when a mentor or a coach provides feedback to fellow employees. As peer coaching is a form of employee coaching, things could go wrong in many areas. So a peer coach or mentor must incorporate instructional strategies in every session. 

Provide Constructive Feedback And Criticism Wherever Necessary

Most people think feedback is a review given by a mentor during or after a coaching program. This is not how feedback should be perceived. The truth is that feedback is a great development element in any program—whether it is a leadership development program or a small group coaching program. However, every mentor and coach should be aware of many types of feedback before developing a potential mentoring or peer coaching program. Here are the major types of feedback that should be included in every session of a peer coaching program:

  • Constructive Feedback
  • Effective Feedback
  • Accurate Feedback
  • Direct Feedback
  • Weekly Feedback

Create Small Groups And Informal Platform For Constructive Discussions And Arguments

Healthy teams in an organization deliver benefits that go far beyond the organization's bottom line. Several studies show that collaborative problem solving nurtures a wide range of essential human skills and soft skills in people working as team members. Organizations that expect utmost productivity and profitability from their workforce should consider dividing peer coaching into small groups and networks. Moreover, learning as a group allows people to take more responsibility as they have a sense of connection. It is an undeniable fact that not every employee can get along with everyone in the organization, but most people are comfortable with their team. Creating multiple groups in a peer coaching program can help your organization reap heaps of benefits. 

Customize To Maximize The Effectiveness Of Peer Coaching

The ability to modify and enhance at any point of peer coaching is why organizations prefer peer learning and coaching over any other personal or leadership development program. People find it easier and more effective when they get the options to customize some crucial elements in certain things. As there are no hard and fast rules, a peer coaching program can be modified as many times as possible to any magnitude. Moreover, customizable peer coaching programs are easier to handle and maintain for a very long time as anyone in a peer coaching group can suggest and change a particular concept. 

Use Reflection As An Effective Tool To Make It More Productive And Interactive

As a coach to a specific group, it is important to know that everyone in a peer group benefits from every session. It is normal if some of your employees don't get as interactive as you anticipate, but it does not mean they are not being active. Many professional coaches use reflection as the best methodology in such situations. For example, some employees seldom start a thread of conversation in a peer meeting. These people are as productive and listening as any other employees, but they lack confidence and courage when it comes to asking questions. The best thing a peer mentor or coach can do is focus on those who don't speak first and challenge them in a way that helps them reflect and become highly interactive. 

5 Key Benefits Of Peer Coaching In the Workplace

Any company with an active peer coaching program is destined to enjoy oodles of benefits from running it successfully. Here are five key benefits any type of organization can benefit from implementing an effective peer coaching program in its workplace:

Fosters The Right Amount Of Leadership Skills An Employee Would Need 

As peer coaching deals with strategies to help increase one's efficiency, it is just a matter of time for the employees that go through peer coaching to develop leadership skills. A well-planned and structured peer coaching program forging patience and other human skills that are beneficial in both personal and professional life. When employees take a huge responsibility to grow together with fellow employees, they become the perfect candidate to fill the future leadership pipeline of an organization. This way, an organization can find future leaders for their leadership team. Moreover, the more engaging and productive a peer coaching program gets, the lesser the turnover rates will be in an organization. 

Better Problem Solving Abilities In Your Employees

The modern workplace is never not filled with conundrums and problems that need an immense level of attention and collaboration. As a peer coaching program is intended to nurture your employees with adequate patience, perseverance, and proclivity for smart work, problems cannot stop you from delivering the desired results. It is well-known that people that work in groups and teams are more likely to be problem-solvers and critical thinkers. They might have encountered similar situations when they took up a peer coaching role in their training programs. 

Prepares The Minds To Be More Innovative And Flexible

The confluence of free-thinking and creative minds is one of the perfect timings and environments where creativity and innovation occur. Such an environment is the first outcome of an effective peer coaching program. For example, during a typical peer coaching session, like-minded employees may get to know each other and develop an understanding of different perspectives on a whole new level. This mentally prepares anyone who participates in peer coaching to be the best form of inventiveness one could get. Moreover, the right kind of peer coaching coupled with the right team at the right time is a well-bred pathway to unlocking a broader spectrum of perspectives. 

Cultivates Camaraderie And Effective Communication Skills

In many organizations, especially with this new era of remote working, most newly joined employees are still grappling with making friends who work in different teams. A couple of years ago, this was not the case when it would only take a month or two to get properly introduced to most employees as new hires. By leveraging peer learning and other training programs, employees can get a chance to meet new people across the organization. Not only does peer coaching help cultivate mutual friendship with as many coworkers as possible, but it also does nurture an employee with effective communication skills. 

Increased Employee Retention

As cliché as it might sound, a list of peer coaching benefits is incomplete without mentioning this classic benefit. The happier your teams are, the lesser the turnover rates are. This is especially true when an organization faces more than usual voluntary resignations. One of the kernels of peer coaching is improved employee retention, as employees feel more valued and appreciated working as a team than working individually.

Peer Coaching: A Catalyst For Leadership, Proactivity, And Inclusion And Belonging In The Workplace

Real learning, which helps an individual take all the obstacles and challenges into his strides, does not even start until one gets into a professional environment. Besides that, the pandemic emphasized the necessity of leadership skills and professional coaching in today's workplace. With the help of technology, the culture of learning has been refined to the point where development and progression become a reality. In a professional setup, it is natural for young employees to feel nervous and overwhelmed by the roles and responsibilities they are expected to perform. The best thing an organization can do to help their new hires feel valued and heard is by encouraging peer learning and coaching programs. 

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