By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

The future of work is hybrid, and it is now. 

As we move steadfastly into the hybrid work model, it becomes abundantly clear that this world of work will need new skills and approaches. In the post-pandemic world, organizations will have to re-evaluate the drivers of employee engagement and employee experience since the older drivers of engagement no longer remain valid. 

With the economy ahead promising to be unquestionably different, organizations have to now focus on upskilling initiatives to thrive in this new world order. New skills, processes, working mechanisms, systems of collaboration, team building, and new ways of thinking are the need of the hour. These cannot be addressed with a day-long training program. Developing these new skills to thrive in today’s complex work environment needs focused and continuous learning. Something that organizations can achieve with peer coaching. 

Read: Peer Coaching – The Critical Pillar to Drive Employee Experience and Engagement in Hybrid Workplaces

But how can organizations create a peer coaching culture?

Develop an army of peer coaches

To create a peer coaching culture an organization needs peer coaches. Looking at the employee base and identifying the natural coaches in their midst is the first step. However, often people themselves are unaware of their coaching capabilities. Helping people identify their inherent coaching capabilities assists in identifying peer coaches who can contribute to the organizational learning environment. 

Apart from the ones who are naturally disposed to coaching, organizations can also look at high-performing employees or those employees who show exceptional technical or power skills and coach them to become peer coaches. 

Managers can identify the potential coaches in their teams according to their skills and make them a part of the peer coaching network. Managers themselves can embark on a learning journey and take coaching to become good peer coaches. 

Read: Help your Leaders Transition to a Digital World – Start Peer Coaching Initiatives

Destigmatize asking for help

It is heartening to see that organizations are now paying close attention to their employee’s mental health. With the pandemic pushing employees towards burnout, the conversation around mental health and seeking help to alleviate stressors has become mainstream.

Seeking help has been stigmatized as a sign of weakness for the longest time and it is time to change that.

There are many who are still not sensitized to the unique challenges of their peers. Setting up a peer coaching culture helps in beating stigmas and creates a healthy work environment by educating people on the importance of mental health and the adverse impacts of poor mental health and burnout. Actively identifying toxic behaviors and addressing them, sends out a strong message, that only healthy habits that are conducive to the workplace shall be encouraged. 

Peer coaching helps people become more self-aware by providing contextual information. Since it is a continuous and non-judgmental process, people are more open to receiving feedback. The continuous nature of the program also makes sure that people can circle back to their coaches when they find themselves falling into unhealthy work patterns or ideologies. Proactive support provided by peer coaching makes sure that the behavioral change needed to destigmatize aging concepts is implemented and internalized. 

Promote continuous learning

To develop a peer coaching culture, organizations have to work towards developing a culture that promotes continuous learning. This ties in with the need of the times, where changing business dynamics, a rapidly evolving technology landscape, and the increasing focus on digital transformation demand new skill sets. What is clear is that the pace of change we are experiencing is only going to accelerate in the post-pandemic world. 

The needs of the hybrid workplace also demand the learning of new power skills and the unlearning of certain old methodologies. Organizations that offer avenues to improve their employee’s skill sets by helping them identify their learning needs using contextual data are more likely to see an invested, engaged, and productive workforce. 

Encouraging continuous learning also drives a peer coaching culture as then the workforce is motivated to lean in towards their coaches to seek guidance on how to best navigate their work environments and ensure that they can remain on a growth path. 

Lead by example

Peer coaching can play a big role in helping leaders develop and evolve their leadership styles to suit the hybrid work environment. Managers now have to evolve and become virtual leaders from remote bosses. It is time for organizational leaders to lead by example and leverage peer coaching and become peer coaches themselves to navigate the challenges of this hybrid workplace.

When employees see people of authority encouraging, seeking, and participating in peer coaching, it also prompts them to follow their example. The goal of peer coaching is to help each other find solutions and unlock an individual’s potential to maximize their performance. When employees across the organization see seniors taking the right steps to enhance their performance and learn new behaviors and skills to thrive in the hybrid workplace, they are also motivated to follow the same. The legitimacy that peer coaching gets from leadership involvement helps in establishing a strong peer coaching culture within the organization. 

In Conclusion

With no playbook telling us how to manage these challenging and inexperienced times, developing a peer coaching culture becomes imperative as we go back to work. The workforce today needs understanding, empathy, and support more than ever before to forge ahead in their career paths. Establishing a peer coaching culture in these times gives employees the support that they need to validate and activate knowledge, reduce work-related stressors, identify growth paths and avenues of improvement, and increase engagement. All of these factors contribute towards a healthy and resilient workforce- one that is completely ready to manage the upheavals and uncertainties that the future holds. 

Connect with us to see how our AI-powered coaching platform can help you deliver a robust and thriving coaching culture across your organization. 

By Ashley Henderson, Guest

The numbers don’t lie—employee peer coaching is in demand and is very good for business. CNBC reported that a LinkedIn’s study found that 94% of employees will stay longer at a company invested in their learning. Meanwhile, millennial and Gen Z workers—who are steadily populating the workforce—have said that engagement with leadership is an important factor for their longevity and productivity. But despite all this, companies have not always encouraged leaders to transcend into coaches.

Only in the last decade have companies begun to see employee peer coaching as an investment rather than an option. LinkedIn also reported that over 82% of professionals now say that their bosses support employee engagement and upskilling. However, the real benefit of peer coaching is not just its ability to increase company profit.

When properly rolled out, peer coaching can create lasting paradigm shifts that will better the company, the culture, and the employee personally. But just how can this be done?

1. Identify Pain Points

Even the most professional worker cannot help but carry some personal baggage every so often. If an employee is experiencing personal issues, purely professional and objective advice will only provide them a bandage solution. Through peer coaching, you can work together to identify specific pain points that may be hindering progress.

For example, if a single father is struggling to meet the quota, it is better to coach him on how to schedule his day rather than provide short-term solutions. Not only will this get him back on track, but it will also help him keep these good habits going in the long-term. Keep a macro-awareness of how everything plays into each other. Depending on your relationship, you could set up team goals (that include numerical and behavioral) or you could meet one-on-one to do this.

2. Break Unconscious Biases

Unfortunately, generations of ingrained biases affect how we look at ourselves and others. In the workplace, this is often seen in the form of sexism and racism. In fact, in our ‘Workplace Racial Bias is Real’ post, Shalini Ramakrishnan notes that 42% of American employees have experienced racism.

She also states that racial biases are impossible to change through outright admonishments—especially if they’re subtle microaggressions and microinvalidations. Instead, by providing holistic understanding, employees are better able to grasp the need for acceptance and respect at the most fundamental level of thought. Through effective peer coaching techniques, employees  can be approached in a personalized and contextual way that is sustainable too.

3. Develop a Growth Mindset

Marcus article on developing resilience states that trying times can be a way to develop a growth mindset. This mindset allows you to view challenges as opportunities for growth rather than problems waiting to be solved. A growth mindset can also promote positivity, patience, and happiness that can lead to a 31% increase in productivity.

Coaching your employees to believe in their abilities, while also making sure to acknowledge hard work is one way to develop their growth mindset. There is a fine line between nitpicking and honing. Constantly pointing out an employee’s “difficulties” can lead to disengagement and demotivation. Instead, approach them from a place of improvement and trust. Show them that their “weaker” attributes are works-in-progress. This is a prime chance to re-angle their outlook and help provide insightful feedback through peer coaching.

4. Foster Regular Dialogue

Effective peer coaching should have a constant flow of communication between everyone involved. This not only establishes a clearer baseline for training programs, but it also instills a sense of accountability and recognition that employees thrive off. In fact, an entry from Medium on employee recognition states that 82% of employees prefer getting recognition over other incentives. When employees feel valued and recognized, they are more likely to be effective and loyal workers who are inspired to pass on this mindset to others. This type of coaching helps promote a team, rather than solo, approach to problem-solving and productivity.

The biggest mistake that many employers make is to put behavioral training behind hard skills. But this old-school approach only widens the skills gap and creates an impersonal environment that can dampen even the hardest worker. This is because a small company in the US can lose up to $3 million a year due to disengagement. While the pandemic has pushed many companies to cut corners, the investment into proper employee peer coaching should not be one of them.

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

One of the key priorities for HR is to identify avenues to improve employee performance and drive employee growth. Invariably, HR turns to traditional learning and development programs: training, conferences, and webinars and often even employing the infamous job-shadowing or cross-training. While these traditional opportunities have their place an employee’s life, these annual or bi-annual activities are hardly impactful enough to drive employee engagement, productivity, or retention.

And yet, we keep doing the same thing expecting different outcomes. The irony is unmissable. 

But now this story has to change. The gargantuan change and disruption that the pandemic has thrust upon organizations are compelling them to re-evaluate strategies to drive employee engagement and productivity while working to close the skills gap, both technical and critical. That apart, organizations need to also focus on creating a winning culture that helps teams go through change and strengthens organizational resilience. 

For this, organizations need to focus on building organizational EQ skills, and to do this they need to turn towards Peer Coaching.

Peer Coaching integrates expertise across teams 

Peer Coaching creates small groups of selected employees from across the organization who come together to learn from each other and coach one another to navigate work challenges. It is an informal method that allows employees to share their expertise and provide assistance and feedback to each other to overcome challenges and augment professional development. 

Since Peer Coaching is a great format for developing key skills like self-awareness, empathy, flexibility, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, active listening, problem-solving, etc., it allows for self-discovery in a low-risk setting. 

With insights and perspectives on areas of the organization they do not directly interact with, learners in the Peer Coaching format develop trusting relationships with their peer coach. This further strengthens the organizations’ ability to drive cross-functionality. 

Peer Coaching builds trust bridges and reduces over-reliance on few familiar faces 

The Peer Coaching format is based on non-judgmental, informal conversation. It combats the culture where everyone agrees on shared objectives but works in a way that optimizes functional or business unit goals. It breaks down employee clusters and combats distrust and unhealthy competition amongst team members. But most importantly, it helps in building trust bridges between team members and peers outside of the team. 

By engaging peers in the coaching process, the coaching activity is more democratized. This reduces the dependence of the organization on a few familiar faces and helps employees take advantage of the experience of their peers. 

Peer Coaching addresses misalignments 

Peer Coaching builds competence and helps organizations foster interpersonal trust and the value of group goals. As an informal process that is rooted in friendly exchanges rather than evaluative exchanges, it serves as a process to identify and address misalignments within the organizational framework.

With the hybrid work environment being the reality, this process helps in ironing out issues and resolve challenges that impede productivity, creativity, and collaboration. By providing people a forum to open up and address work and personal issues, organizations can increase employee productivity and ensure that all factors that influence employee engagement and experience are positively aligned. 

Peer Coaching prevents WFH burnout and helps teams re-think their future 

The conversation around WFH burnout is real. People now have to balance work, career growth, and life and recalibrate expectations and goals to meet the new world of work. Given the disruption at hand, many employees struggle to manage the challenges brought about by the new world of work. 

Whether it is identifying growth pathways, addressing issues, identifying learning gaps to drive career growth, improving visibility, and building inter-personal networks in remote environments, Peer Coaching helps the workforce with the skills they need to operate in this new world order. 

Peer Coaching drives accountability and opportunity to learn from real-world scenarios

Effective remote teams and WFH teams are focused on building consensus, camaraderie, and trust. They believe in brainstorming and innovation. 

Peer Coaching assists in developing these skills and helps employees grow by experiencing different working styles and feedback from their coaches, who are, ultimately, their peers. 

It enables information exchange and helps learners more about the challenges from real-world scenarios that their peer coaches have experienced. It also enables the smooth flow of tribal knowledge across teams and assists in driving greater accountability for following through on commitments and actions. 

Peer Coaching makes employees more self-aware 

Peer Coaching contributes to an individual’s metacognitive learning. Metacognition is the measure of an individual’s awareness of their own knowledge – what they know and what they don’t, and their ability to understand and control their cognitive processes. 

Peer Coaching helps employees become more self-aware of what they say and/or do or don’t. This awareness influences their actions, both personal and professional, and influences the collective team attitude. 

Self-awareness is also essential to drive meaningful diversity and inclusion initiatives and creates a process for recognizing and reintegrating the disenfranchised.

Peer Coaching for Teams’ Effectiveness 

Peer Coaching helps the entire organization rewire itself for resilience. 

Organization leaders can leverage algorithmic business thinking to hack growth and value and identify the skills needed to transition to this new digital world and use Peer Coaching to achieve them. 

Employees can use data-backed methods to assess their skills needs and reach out to peers to bridge these gaps. 

Peer Coaching essentially helps in developing a coaching culture that is ingrained into the organizational DNA. Team effectiveness then becomes an automatic consequence of Peer Coaching. 

Connect with us to see how our cutting-edge, AI-powered coaching platform to start your Peer Coaching program and help your teams improve their effectiveness.

By Varnika Garg, Associate Product Manager

Workplace dynamics change constantly for employees. New situations and challenges at work are common occurrences that can make employees feel stressed and worn out. The pandemic has only made the situation worse, with many employees finding themselves working in silos and feeling even more distanced from their teams and managers. 

But if you ask anyone, whenever faced with a challenge, most people would prefer reaching out to a colleague for help. This is often due to the close bonds that people build with their colleagues/peers at work. 70% of employees say having friends at their job is the most crucial element to a happy working life.

To get more insights into this, we at Numly conducted a quick poll on LinkedIn running for about a week, with the following question:

If you need expertise and do not know who to ask, what are your top methods to find the right person?

  • Ask manager for recommendation
  • Colleague for recommendations
  • Ask during a virtual event
  • Search via people locator tool

Results:

And here are the results, and they were not quite surprising!

With about 46% votes to “Asking a colleague for recommendations”, it is clearly evident that people do value peer relationships and would like to reach out to them when they are stuck and need expertise.

Takeaways:

Peer-to-peer relationships or Peer Coaching is evolving as an essential process for every organization. There are some real and tangible benefits of enabling your employees to interact and solve problems. Helping your workforce develop a close relationship with each other not only prevents them from feeling isolated and unheard, it is also a great way to improve your organization’s engagement levels. 

Some benefits of Peer Coaching are:

  • Increase in productivity and performance
  • Improved team morale
  • Boost in employee retention
  • Increase in camaraderie and engagement

For the current generation, having a well-connected network is highly important. Employees are keen to find new ways to seek and connect with others in their field to seek guidance and knowledge on critical skills development needed for their personal career growth. Organizations that are conducive to create such a trustworthy environment for their employees are highly sought after. 

Solution:

Having understood the importance of Peer Coaching, the biggest question is, how to enable it at your organization?

Numly offers an AI-enhanced platform – NumlyEngage™, that enables Peer Coaching as an extension of eLearning, making it possible for organizations to tap into employees’ hard and soft skills and empower them to coach each other in a structured manner, while leveraging third-party learning content, expert coaches and built-in, AI-enabled coaching programs tailored for all corporate functional groups such as Sales, Customer Success, R&D/Engineering, Women Leaders, New-hires, New Managers, etc. 

NumlyEngage™ helps employees of an organization to connect with each other on specific skills and coach each other in a systematic manner, guided by AI-generated recommendations and tips and content. in turn, organizations will get to experience accelerated revenue, increased performance, and improved employee engagement, especially in the post-COVID-19 era of Working-From-Home (WFH).

Leverage the power of Peer Coaching today! Get a live demo to discover how NumlyEngage™ can help you.

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Peer coaching is a relational learning technique where professionals, managers, and executives come together to help each other become better versions of themselves. They do this by creating an environment that’s conducive to learning, self-reflection, honesty, and trust. Many times, they aren’t active participants in each other’s professional lives and have become acquainted through this process. Even so, they’re dedicated to helping each other reach pre-defined goals through self-directed learning. Each person alternately plays the role of peer coach and peer client. 

Getting individuals to wholeheartedly participate in peer coaching can be challenging in many ways. It can be a threatening idea for some. It involves letting your guard down and pointing out your flaws to another individual. If it’s someone you work with, it can be harder to do this. How does one foster an environment where people don’t feel threatened to let down their defenses? On the other hand, when people are ready to self-reflect, how can you ensure they’re led to the desired goals?

The answer to these questions lies in following the principles of peer coaching. With these, organizations can ensure that their peer coaching efforts are fruitful and deliver tangible impact. 

Key Principles for Peer Coaching at Workplace

Create an Environment of Introspection

Fostering the right environment for self-reflection is important. This is key to peer coaching and will help individuals feel comfortable with discussing their aspirations. Ensure each unit or team doesn’t exceed three to maintain a sense of comfort and closeness. Here are a few questions each peer coaching unit can ask to get started:

  • How will we work together?
  • When and how will we meet?
  • What are your expectations, interests, fears, and hopes?
  • What are you uncomfortable with disclosing? (this can be avoided to respect privacy)

Create a Feedback Culture

This is a crucial step in peer coaching. Not everyone is good at giving or taking, feedback. People may feel hurt, and this can create disharmony. How does one avoid getting into trouble with their peers while retaining honesty? Organizations can give the teams coaching on giving and receiving feedback – just a couple of basic rules. The most essential component of this is conveying the importance of active listening. This, along with observation and careful communication, is the backbone of effective feedback.

Set Transparent SMART Goals

Setting the right goals will create the structure for the peer coaching sessions. Each individual must create a set of personalized goals that they want to reach by the end of a set number of weeks. These should include what the individual wants to achieve, what skills they’d like to improve, and what new knowledge they’d like to obtain. Individuals will have to take time to self-reflect and think about their goals from the perspective of both a teacher and a learner.

They can then create a set of SMART goals. This will help them create specific, measurable, assignable, relevant, and time-bound goals that will help them succeed in their endeavors. When everyone is ready with their goals, they have to share them.

Establish a Realistic Schedule

When crafting the timetable for sharing and assessment, it is important to create a realistic schedule. This should not come in between the actual work of individuals. It is essential to take into consideration all their commitments, both professional ones, and personal ones, and then plan the peer coaching programs. Creating an unrealistic schedule will end up with people missing dates and reducing trust in the process. This will be demotivating and cause a dip in the employee growth journey. Setting SMART goals and a realistic schedule is important to create an effective peer coaching system.

Use the Right Tools

The right tools are important since most people are still working from home right now. Even when they aren’t, these tools will prove to be useful. Organizations need online collaboration, communication, and feedback tools to facilitate these processes. There are many such tools online, each that fit specific needs and budgets. Some tools help in adding tasks, due dates, facilitating video calling, and online chatting. These can be helpful during events or moments where people can’t be at the same place physically.  

Everyone Needs to Have the Right Mindset

The right outlook is key for peer coaching initiatives to work. People must be eager to reap the rewards of this process. This is a growth mindset and is essential for anyone to develop – not just professionally but as a human being. It can help to include managers, department heads, and other leaders from the company in these peer coaching sessions as they have specific experience and knowledge that can genuinely motivate others to grow.

Follow these peer coaching principles and get the most out of these fun and collaborative learning processes. It’s an excellent way to facilitate self-development with the right leadership to guide them. 

Leverage the power of Numly to empower your employees with Peer Coaching. Get a demo today!