By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

Peer coaching is a complex and rewarding system that can help everyone in an organization tap into their full potential. It’s an extremely empowering process that helps break down unnecessary elements and enhance the practices that are required to tackle the unique modern work challenges. 

But most organizations have little to no idea how to implement peer coaching. A survey showed that only half of the respondents who filled the survey used peer coaching at the time, and only 32% considered peer coaching to be very or extremely effective. This suggests that organizations are yet to leverage the full potential of peer coaching. 

Let’s take a look at the many benefits of peer coaching. 

Key Benefits of Peer Coaching in the Workplace

Peer Coaching helps set goals

Peer coaching boosts employee engagement at work by coaching people how to focus on the ‘what’, and not the ‘how’. That helps employees assess their relationship with their organization and what they want out of it in the long run. It encourages each employee to innovate, be resilient, agile, and redesign their future.

According to another survey, 80% of people who received coaching report greater self-confidence. More than 70% benefited from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills. 

Read: Inspiring Behavioral Change in Employees Through Peer Coaching

Peer coaching enhances discussions around goals and priorities, helps people plan their schedules, opens up channels of communication, and, most importantly – helps them reinforce these with metrics. 

It also changes the nature of group work. On top of setting personal goals, group goals and company goals are taken into consideration, too. That ensures that the employee’s personal goals align with those of the company. Peer coaching also helps create spaces where competence can be built, and interpersonal trust helps establish the value of group goals. In terms of leadership, peer coaching helps in achieving agility. 

Read: Here is How Peer Coaching Improves Teams’ Effectiveness

Peer Coaching creates a Flatter Organizational Structure

Imagine an office where the people who get promoted are the ones who butter up the manager. Anyone else who prefers to focus on their work rather than spend time in watercooler conversations simply gets overlooked. They get a heavier workload and often go underappreciated. What would happen in such an environment? Most likely, the culture would become negative and toxic. The leaders would elevate and promote just a few members above others. There would be an overreliance on some familiar faces. Other team members would become disillusioned and withdraw.

Now imagine an office where there is an intense amount of competition. The leaders actively pit the employees against each other. That would cause distrust and competition amongst team members. It might even create a lack of trust in peers within their function. This distrust would also transfer onto peers outside of their function. That doesn’t sound very healthy, does it? Such environments foster toxic distractions that would take the focus away from work and onto office politics. 

But peer coaching solves these problems. Open channels of communication are created between all the members. That creates a culture of shared objectives and helps employees work as a team to optimize functional and business unit goals – together. Peer coaching helps put an end to discriminatory behavior as well since it creates a flatter hierarchy. If any is observed, it’s easy for peers to report this behavior. It also creates a better breed of leader – a more empathetic one, hands-on, and accountable.

Peer Coaching enables Better Learning 

We all know the benefit of upskilling, reskilling, and learning more skills throughout our lives as employees. But did you know peer coaching can create better processes to facilitate deeper learning? Modern workplaces distribute knowledge through blended learning methodologies and modern tools /technologies. They also integrate expertise across teams through joint work and peer coaching. It does this in many ways.

First of all, peer coaching helps upskill teams for the next ‘normal’. It does this even when the on-ground facts are incomplete, imprecise, and constantly changing. This style rewires leaders for excellence by teaching them how to navigate through disruptive processes such as the COVID-19 crisis and more. It also helps them transition to a digital world. Today, forward-thinking leaders are already using algorithmic business thinking to hack growth and value. Peer coaching helps spread this knowledge and helps those who are uncomfortable with these new changes.

Peer coaching helps individuals manage themselves better, too. This is especially true when it comes to learning and adapting to newer climates where the situation is ambiguous and complex. A great example is a work-from-home situation brought about by the pandemic. Changing environments like this require a re-designed peer coaching experience. 

Peer coaching also:

  • Helps determine the impact-to-effort ratio of new activities and empowers teams to say NO. 
  • Keeps teams’ focus on outcomes from a customer and stakeholder perspective. 
  • Helps reconfigure, re-optimize pitfalls, strengths, and spikes in the workforce behavior and skill landscape. 
  • Combats hyper-focus on optimizing the outcomes based on the team’s expertise rather than the end need.
  • Defeats the cultural resistance to knowledge sharing.
  • Balances ideals with what’s practical and pragmatic.
  • Helps employees tackle the work from home burnout challenges.

Peer coaching also teaches leaders to be empathetic and reach out to those who may be feeling alienated. That helps the overall learning process as those who are exhausted will not be able to learn or perform to their optimal levels. 

Read: How Peer Coaching Elevates Organizational Knowledge Management

Peer Coaching helps resolving Team Bonding Challenges 

Peer coaching encourages problem-solving behavior and helps in overcoming geographic disconnection within hybrid teams. It creates processes to identify and address misalignments. It combats the lack of norms/policies to guide the new normal of hybrid work. Peer coaching even combats a culture of over-inclusion; both within the team as well as within the larger organization.

Peer coaching solves many problems faced by organizations. It helps teams focus on consensus building, brainstorming/innovation, camaraderie building, and developing trust. It helps balance work, life, and career growth. It helps everyone to get transparent about workloads and competing priorities collectively. 

Peer Coaching generates Opportunities

Finally, peer coaching creates opportunities in many ways – especially for minority groups whose voices have historically been silenced. Companies need to understand that diversity, equity, and inclusion are power skills for any organization. Whether the teams are in-house or distributed across the world – that holds. Sadly, the COVID-19 Pandemic “could” erase six years’ worth of progress towards equality for women of color, and other disenfranchised women, since the onus of child-rearing falls upon them. But they – along with other minorities – are the backbone of any business.

Peer coaching deals with these inequities. It shifts work away from the dominance of a few experts. It creates true diversity and inclusion by growing processes or roles for recognizing and reintegrating the disenfranchised. Since peer coaching involves intimate interactions between employees, it helps make ‘inclusion’ a company-wide group value. 

If the peer coaching programs are crafted with these in mind, it’ll be easier to reap these benefits.

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

In today’s fast-moving and increasingly competitive world, standing still is equivalent to moving back. Competitive advantage can never be guaranteed, and disruption is a constant. Digital technologies bring in organizational stability and become the cause of increased competition and employee turnover, especially as employment doesn’t remain limited by physical proximity. Then there is the world of work that has moved, somewhat prematurely, into the Future of Work leading to the rise of remote work and hybrid workplaces as a response to the pandemic. 

Organizations are looking for ways to manage constant change and disruption while keeping employees engaged in this hybrid work model. One of the best ways to achieve this is to ensure equitable distribution of knowledge seamlessly across the organization. 

For this, organizations have robust learning and development plans and training initiatives to help their employees. However, along with these initiatives, organizations need to focus on creating a learning culture that is steeped in knowledge sharing. 

The importance of knowledge sharing and what impedes it

In these digital workplaces, the concept of knowledge sharing becomes critical to develop a more unified, connected, and engaged workforce. Knowledge sharing is an activity through which knowledge and expertise are exchanged amongst colleagues and teammates. However, there is a certain cultural resistance when it comes to knowledge sharing. 

This is usually because knowledge is not relegated to information consumption alone. It is also about the “how” and “why” and the complete experience behind something. Knowledge sharing is more than information exchange. It is about ensuring that employees become experts armed with the knowledge that goes beyond basic information. 

Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. Creating channels that remove silos and enable smooth knowledge sharing ensures greater innovation capabilities, a more productive workforce, faster problem solving, higher levels of collaboration, and more individual experts. 

Knowledge sharing, given its impact, should ideally be a part of the organizational knowledge management strategy. However, most organizations look at knowledge sharing linearly…one that is limited to simple documenting and creating some knowledge-sharing articles. 

However, the environment of constant disruption, rising competitiveness, and the consequent need for increased resilience demand that organizations take calibrated steps to create and preserve knowledge across evolving workforces. The objective is to create a workforce that can link knowledge with action to drive value. This can only happen with peer coaching.

Peer coaching eliminates the barrier to action 

To effectively implement a culture of knowledge sharing it is essential to embed it into the organizational culture, spanning from the junior-most to the senior-most individual. 

This can only be achieved when there is a systematic shift in perceptions and learned behaviors. 

Driving such a shift of behaviors can only happen with contextual learning, consistent reinforcement of new learnings, and timely feedback. It requires knowledge sharing to become an integral part of the knowledge management process. This can happen organically within an organization by building a culture of peer coaching.

Peer coaching is a non-judgmental process where two people of equal status actively help each other to solve specific tasks or issues using simple, straightforward advice and a mutual desire to be helpful.

Peer coaching works in driving organizational knowledge management because, – 

It is data-driven and contextual

Organizations can drive highly contextual and relevant peer coaching programs to help employees navigate the skills gap or performance challenges they experience. Using tests such as behavioral analysis tests or 16 personality factor tests, organizations can adopt a data-driven approach to drive peer coaching across the organization. 

People are more responsive to contextual information because of which peer coaching becomes more compelling in overcoming resistance to change. 

It reaffirms learning and drives behavioral shifts

Peer coaching is an informal process that occurs cyclically. It can be an effective tool to reaffirm learning and share knowledge in an organized and systematic manner. Since peer coaching can become a part of a larger learning setup, it can be easily leveraged to drive better learning outcomes with repetition. 

Peer coaches are also change-enablers since they are a part of the organization and are employees themselves with the relevant experience. Because of this, their suggestions become more relevant, help in building greater understanding, become more welcome and are easily put into practice.

Peer coaching breaks down the resistance to change and helps in driving behavioral shift by reaffirming learning, builds accountability, and automatically improves outcomes. 

Peer coaching promotes knowledge sharing and continuous learning 

By establishing a strong peer coaching network, an organization sets the tone for learning and establishes it as a part of its core philosophy. Creating the network and providing a platform to confidently and confidentially reach out to seek help to close learning gaps automatically encourages people to take charge of their learning. Building such a network promotes a culture of sharing and encourages those with elevated skills to upskill those in need. 

Providing a platform to connect with coaches according to skill not only closes the skills gap but also encourages employees to ‘pay it forward.’ With peer coaching, organizations can build the peer mindset and make learning endemic to the organization. It builds learning and coaching into the very fabric of the organizational culture and ensures that tribal knowledge does not filter out of the organization but flows through it seamlessly. Since it promotes organic exchange, it reduces the resistance towards change. 

Finally, peer coaching establishes the network that ensures knowledge is distributed evenly and equitably across the organization and delivers enablement and empowerment when work happens. 

Connect with us to see how our AI-powered peer coaching platform can help your organization elevate knowledge management and make it a part of the company culture. 

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 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!