Can Peer Coaching Create Better Leaders?

Relationships are essential to the success of any business and a crucial aspect of building a successful company is utilising employee’s unique talents and knowledge. Peer coaching can help spread and share this knowledge across the team, in turn, improving communication and relationships. It can also help to build a culture of openness, transparency, and learning in the workplace. When teams work well together this improves productivity and increases employee retention.

Peer coaching is a form of professional development where peers provide support and guidance to each other. It is a powerful tool for developing individuals, teams, and entire organisations. Used effectively, it can create better leaders, as both sides learn essential communication skills, such as giving feedback without being condescending or judgmental and receiving feedback without feeling attacked. The best leaders know how to take feedback and implement changes, whilst pushing others to better themselves.

This differs from traditional mentoring, where a senior employee will teach a junior employee. In peer coaching, both employees are at the same level but have unique talents and experiences. This makes the lessons taught more relatable as the mentor may understand the learners’ daily challenges more than a senior member of staff.

Examples of peer coaching

Peer coaching can come in many forms. It could be one-to-one sessions, or it can be a group meeting with multiple members of staff with different backgrounds and expertise. These meetings should be kept small with no more than three peers. Learners should be encouraged to ask questions and the mentor should listen without judgment, and answer questions in a respectful and insightful manner.

Peer coaching can also teach employees how to offer constructive criticism to their peers, for example, a mentor could review an upcoming report and documentation that the learner has put together, and provide feedback on how they can improve.

Software solutions like Teams and Slack can create a group messaging environment for departments, where questions, documents, and material can be shared. This creates a collaborative space where all peers can collectively share knowledge and information and gain feedback on work.

What makes a good mentor?

  • Focus on relationships – mentors should be able to build trust and respect with their peers.
  • Meet consistently and review – set up a schedule and make sure to follow up with peers to assess the success of the discussion.
  • Share experiences – don’t be shy about sharing your experiences and encourage the learner to do the same
  • Take feedback onboard – not everyone has the same learning style, ask for feedback from the learner about the session and fit your teaching to match how they learn

By identifying what makes someone a good mentor, you can recognise character traits in people that display if they will make a good team leader or manager, and help to nurture these traits.

About the author

Luke joined RWA from July 2022 - July 2023. He has 10 years of graphic design experience creating marketing material and 7 years of direct marketing experience, most recently working as a freelance social media marketing manager. Luke’s role at RWA involved overseeing RWA's social media channels and assisting with the creation of e-learning and blog content.

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