Peer coaching models, resources, and interactions are no longer limited to school-based services. Many organizations and businesses that emphasize cooperation, communication and team building are turning to peer coaching as a way to increase the resourcefulness of employees and provide a higher quality workplace.
One area where peer coaching has expanded is in law enforcement and emergency services. Several such organizations that use peer coaching are now listed in the Peer Programs section of the Peer Resources website. The model of peer coaching that is typically used is based on the seven-step model created by Rey Carr of Peer Resources. His model, called the Experiential Learning Cycle, is based on the steps necessary to maximize learning from experience.
What follows is a brief description of the focus of each step, a sample of what a peer coach might say in that step, and a short list of the skills a peer coach would use during that step.
1. Greeting, rapport building, expression of appreciation, setting an agenda. (“Hi, Kathy; I’m glad we’re able to get together today; I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you. One thing I’d like to do in the time we have together is to practice my coaching skills. How about you? What would you like to add to the agenda?”)
2. Exploration of the concern, issue, or situation. (“Okay, Kathy, tell me about your situation, concern or circumstance.”) Peer coach listens, expresses understanding, asks clarifying, not directing questions.
3. Setting goals or outcomes. (“Kathy, what’s the end result? or How would you like it to be? or What’s your goal here? And why is that -are they- important to you?”) Peer coach listens, expresses understanding, asks clarifying, not directing questions.
4. Establish a plan. (“Kathy, now that we know where you want to go and why getting there is important to you, what actions can you think of to bring your current reality closer to your goal?”) Peer coach listens, suggests ideas, shares experiences and what result they brought about and asks partner how peer coach ideas/experiences fit for him/her.
5. Plan for potential barriers. (Kathy, now that we have some ideas how to deal with your situation, what barriers, roadblocks, or resistance do you think you might experience trying to put your plan into action?”)
6. Action planning. (“Kathy, what do we need to do to put your ideas into practice? Which actions, who needs to do what, when; and are there any other steps that might be required?”) Peer coach listens, shares ideas.
7. Ending, rapport building, expression of appreciation, expression of confidence, follow-up schedule. (“Kathy, we’ve come up with a solid plan of action that seems like it will bring your reality closer to where you really want to be. And I’m confident that your plan will work given clarity of your goals, your motivation, and the attention you’ve paid to potential barriers. I particularly appreciated your willingness to talk with me about it. When do you think would be a good time for us to get together to talk about your progress?”)
Peer coaching and other forms of coaching clearly have much in common. What makes peer coaching more suitable for peer interaction in the work place is that peer coaching emphasizes mutuality or reciprocal interaction. Peers take turns coaching each other. There is also a greater degree of disclosure by the peer coach regarding his or her own experience and what the peer coach learned from that experience. Peer coaching builds on the natural inclination that peers in the workplace have to share and learn from each other.
While employees can benefit from training to strengthen their peer coaching skills, a majority of peer coaching takes place informally and spontaneously. Many employees have significant experiences at work or because of their work and do not have the opportunity to maximize their learning from those experiences. By having a person within their peer group who can act as a catalyst for such learning, employees are more likely to benefit from their experiences and improve the contributions they can make to living the vision of the organization.