How much do you know about executive peer coaching? Most businesses are already familiar with the concept of “executive coaching,” or asking business leaders to mentor and guide other team members. But a peer coaching model takes a different approach.
Interest in peer coaching strategies has increased drastically in recent years, as managers have begun to encounter new challenges in the workplace. Many businesses are leading remote and hybrid teams for the first time, while battling with changing employee expectations.
While new flexible working arrangements deliver a number of benefits to companies, they also make it harder to offer consistent development and learning experiences to employees. What’s more, they often mean employees frequently feel isolated or disconnected from their teams.
Fortunately, peer coaching could be the answer.
To understand executive peer coaching, we first need to define the “peer coaching model”. Peer coaching is a development strategy which involves leveraging the relationship between two or more employees. Crucially, in peer coaching, the “coach” or mentor doesn’t have any control or authority over the student. All learners and teachers are on the same “level” professionally.
Peer-to-peer coaching aims to encourage employees to learn collaboratively, with the help of the people around them. A strong peer coaching program creates a company culture where people feel safe asking for help and learning from their colleagues. People share insights, feedback, challenges, and best practices naturally, allowing for rapid growth.
Studies have already demonstrated the benefits of this model. People who engage regularly in peer coaching are 67% more likely to be a top performer, and 65% more likely to feel fulfilled at work.
Executive peer coaching is simply a type of peer coaching that focuses on driving collaborative learning at the executive or leadership level. Notably, once again, for “peer coaching” to work, executives need to learn from other people who don’t have direct authority over them.
This means a sales executive wouldn’t begin training a new sales rep, although they may act as a mentor. Instead, senior leaders learn from each other. They share insights and feedback with other people with the same level of authority, paving the way for rapid growth.
This method can be particularly useful for companies investing in leadership development. As new employees enter leadership roles, peer coaching strategies can help them to adapt to new management styles and strategies quickly.
Additionally, investing in executive peer coaching also helps to encourage the adoption of peer coaching on a wider scale. When executives and leaders demonstrate the effectiveness of this coaching model, they inspire the development of a more collaborative learning landscape.
Executive peer coaching, and peer coaching in general, takes a very different approach to professional development than most traditional strategies. However, this unique approach can lead to some amazing benefits. With peer coaching, training experiences aren’t confined exclusively to dedicated coaching sessions. Instead, people learn and develop constantly, and automatically.
This allows continuous learning and development to become a central part of the team’s culture, paving the way for constant growth and optimization. Compared to other coaching strategies, peer coaching can unlock advantages like:
Developing an executive peer coaching, or wider peer coaching strategy for a business requires a different approach to most traditional learning and development programs. Rather than bringing new subject matter experts into an organization, or activating executives to help fix issues lower-level employees are facing, you’ll focus on strengthening the relationships between employees.
For employees to fully adopt a peer coaching model, everyone needs to feel comfortable sharing their ideas, and even their weaknesses with other employees.
Some of the key principles of effective peer coaching include:
For employees to reach out to other team members for help, they first need to be self-aware. At an executive level, it can be difficult for leaders to show vulnerability. Most executives feel are under significant pressure to constantly perform according to high standards.
Creating an environment of introspection, where every employee is encouraged to assess and embrace their strengths and weaknesses, is crucial to success. When executives start demonstrating a willingness to ask for help, based on their evaluation of their own abilities, other employees are more likely to follow suit. This makes executive peer coaching extremely valuable to changing and upgrading a company’s culture.
For peer coaching to work at any level, employees need to be able to trust each other. Just as sales professionals need to build rapport and relationships with clients, employees need to connect with their colleagues on a deeper level.
Team members should feel safe asking for help from their peers, without the fear of being judged. With this in mind, it’s worth investing in training your team members to be accepting and compassionate. Help them build emotional intelligence by showing them how to actively listen to their colleagues, and provide useful feedback.
Peer coaching works best when its implemented on a consistent basis. The more employees feel comfortable sharing insights and feedback with each other, the more natural the collaborative learning process will become. A good way to ensure consistency is to leverage tools to ensure constant communication between employees.
Use scheduling tools to arrange regular meetings and appointments where people can actively discuss their strengths and weaknesses. Use feedback tools to help everyone provide guidance to their peers as quickly and consistently as possible. It’s even worth investing in team building tools and activities, to help strengthen employee relationships.
Anyone can become a coach to their peers, but not every coach will be ideally suited to every learner. If you’re implementing an executive peer coaching strategy, it’s not enough to simply encourage team members to talk to other business leaders. Instead, companies need to think about how they can create the right connections between employees.
You might assign peer coaches based on shared qualities or competencies. For instance, sales leaders working with different teams can often learn from each other. You might also connect people based on their specific strengths and weaknesses. For instance a marketing expert could potentially learn a lot from a sales executive, and vice versa.
Any coaching or training strategy works better when it is implemented with the right set of goals, or the correct “vision”. To ensure every employee benefits from a peer coaching environment, it’s important to encourage each group of team members to set their own goals, and establish what they want to accomplish with the experience.
For instance, a sales team leader might want to learn how to connect more effectively with their team members and improve levels of motivation among staff. At the beginning of any executive peer coaching program, have your team members outline their goals to the people they’re working with so everyone has a clear idea of what they’re trying to achieve.
Peer coaching strategies aren’t as structured as other forms of training. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t common activities that companies can implement. Here are some examples of executive peer coaching activities that you can encourage in your business:
Although peer coaching can deliver a number of benefits to businesses and their employees, not everyone will be open to adopting the new strategy immediately. One of the best ways to encourage adoption of peer coaching is to frame it as an opportunity for leadership development.
Employees might worry that asking for help makes them look incompetent. However, showing your team members that peer coaching can help them expand their skills can lead to the formation of a different mindset. Implementing executive peer coaching before a wider peer coaching strategy can be a good way to “lead by example” in your organization.
Learn in an engaging community of your peers – join our CXO Community today!
Keeping your sales teams engaged and motivated is crucial to your company’s success. The more motivated your staff, the more likely they are to generate positive results for your business. Some studies even suggest a highly motivated sales team can increase profits by 21%.Read Now