Peer to Peer Coaching the Managing with Aloha way (P2PC for short) is a tool I bring to as many workplaces as I possibly can: As with The Daily Five Minutes ® (D5M), I am always looking for a place to insert P2PC into the opportunities we have while working together, whatever their coaching or learning program with Say Leadership Coaching may be.
Here is the short form of Peer to Peer Coaching. 5 Steps you can count on one hand while practicing it:
The 5 Steps of Peer-to-Peer Coaching
- Ask a question about what you would like to be coached on.
- Be completely open-minded about the answers you get.
- Get whatever clarity you need, and then, Say thank you.
- Follow-up by creating some new habits aimed at improvement.
- Check back with the person you spoke with in about a month, and ask them how you are doing, and for more coaching if you still need it.
P2PC becomes a dynamic feedback loop when you schedule the conversation consistently (different subject matter is bound to come up) and take turns starting at number 1. in mutually beneficial relationships invoking the Law of Reciprocity.
Writing this article for Talking Story came to mind for me while sharing an example of using P2PC on Managing with Aloha Coaching connected to the value of Ho‘ohanohano, delivering dignity and respect.
You can read it there at Are you a high maintenance manager?
What is the Managing with Aloha “way” with Peer to Peer Coaching?
Others will build pretty elaborate processes or coaching programs around P2PC.
The MWA Way is to think of it as a simple, straightforward conversation, resist specific rules (like with confidentiality and being politically-correct) and just talk story. Jump in as you would to any other conversation you look forward to with a positive expectancy about the outcome, and build better relationships at the same time.
Like the rest of our SLC-MWA Tools, I do encourage you to make P2PC part of the expectations of your organizational culture:
1. Name it and call it out: Add Peer to Peer Coaching to your company vocabulary so it is part of your Language of Intention. Associate it with Kākou, the “Language of We” so it is company-wide as an expectation.
2. Use it in all WOW projects, and with your teaming expectations (Lōkahi).
3. Require it in the toolkit of all managers, and make it clear that mentoring and coaching others in P2PC is part of their role. Reward them accordingly.
4. Start it with new employees on Day One On The Job by explaining what it is within the hiring process (just as with the D5M). Be sure they begin to practice it before their probationary period is up.
One of our assumptions is that “Peer” means for everyone and between everyone as it takes hold in a company culture, with Peer meaning every employee-turned-business-partner (which is the MWA way within our ‘Ohana in Business „¢ model). New employees may ease into the culture starting with the conventional coaching by their manager, but eventually P2PC becomes the way that everyone at every level of an organization coaches everyone else respectfully and with that positive expectancy of “Who better to learn from [about improving myself] than from these people who know me best by merit of working with me most often?”
So what’s in it for you, and what are those benefits?
There are several of them! How about 20 to start?
~1~ Ease and accessibility ranks high in the benefit column: You get the coaching you need in the place you probably spend most of your time at (besides your home) and begin to regard the workplace as a library of human knowledge. Ask anyone who is now self-employed and working from home after any stint in the corporate workplace how much they miss this.
~2~ The first benefits of P2PC are usually with workplace productivity, both yours and the productivity you expect and want from others. Kind of ironic how this happens: When they first begin to practice P2PC people think that the task work of productivity is safe and unemotional versus jumping into behavior issues they have with each other; they “warm up” to P2PC with productivity conversations. However as we all know, irregular levels of productivity between people builds resentment quickly, so how great that this is the first, and pretty immediate benefit!
~3~ Respect grows within an organization when there is the assumption that sound, wise, and thoughtful answers are to be found within the other people working there. We respect each other’s intelligence, and each other’s capacity for even more learning. Recently someone championing an elder project told me “When an elder dies a library burns.” I think that is true of everyone, even children.
~4~ Knowledge becomes more quickly accessible when P2PC is highly valued as the best way to access answers we realize others may have for our personal growth and self improvement. We begin to think of conversations as Learning Curriculum 101 because it is faster and easier than reading a whole book or taking a course.
~5~ Then, if we do opt to read a book or take a course too, the person we had that great P2PC conversation with potentially becomes a learning buddy, and we coach each other toward achieving better comprehension and retention with our subject matter. Further, in working together we share immediate action applications.
~6~ Therefore, P2PC becomes considered the transactional deposits to a company’s intellectual capacity, a capacity which steadily grows toward abundance. P2PC conversations translate to knowledge currency in the organization’s bank account of knowledge, and the network of account holders grows: Soon people approached for coaching will also bring others into the conversation, saying, “I know who else you should ask about this, for I got some good coaching from them about something similar.”
~7~ The quality of ALL conversations in the workplace improve as a result of the practice people get in P2PC. This is a conversation about personal coaching, and emotional care is required in anything that is personal. However I encourage you to jump in because I do believe that when people are asked for help, others naturally respond in a caring and thoughtful way. I trust in our humanity when we are face to face in one-on-one conversations with each other.
~8~ That said, P2PC is a workplace tool equally good for one-on-one conversations and for team conversations. For example, a 360 ° feedback conversation could be thought of as Peer to Peer Coaching.
~9~ If you use focus groups or task forces for different initiatives, the 5 Steps in P2PC can also be used as the Rules of Engagement quickly explained as conversational guidelines used in the forums of newly-assembled groups. For example, the 5 Steps work great with customer or community focus groups who may or may not share the core values that are adhered to within the organization, by stating what they are in a matter-of-fact, more process-related way.
~10~ The Law of Reciprocity directly affects workplace relationships. In the MWA way of doing it, people are expected to both initiate P2PC and make room for the P2PC conversation as gracious and generous receivers, willing to coach others. The giving and receiving is highly regarded in evaluating working relationships and the performance levels which should naturally flow when those relationships are mutually rewarding.
~11~ Informal leaders become revealed, so that you can tap into their wisdom in other forums as well. By leaders I mean those who seem to generate the most ideas and suggestions for improvement. These are the people who have clear pictures in their heads about what a more compelling future looks like in every situation, and not just with the big strategic vision stuff. They are visionaries too, and on an everyday scale that is hugely beneficial within any organization. To those growing within their own leadership tendencies, there is always a better way for something.
~12~ This is the way that P2PC consistently trains everyone else too. Commiseration and whining have no place in P2PC: The conversation is one initiated with the assumption that improvement IS possible and baby steps in getting started are within reach.
~13~ Managers repeatedly report that behavior improves altogether when P2PC becomes part of an organizational culture. In essence, people become more proactive over time: They self-correct by noticing their own behavior opportunities before they get surprised with receiving coaching for it within P2PC they had initiated on something else.
~14~ I love this next one: As a direct result of step number 2. Be completely open-minded about the answers you get, people willingly put themselves in coaching situations where they learn to listen better and with more open-minded humility. “Yeah buts,” excuses and empty justifications slowly but surely are eliminated, for the P2PC has inherent impatience for what already may have happened, and is focused on what CAN begin to happen.
~15~ Eventually, departmental silos can be minimized or disappear altogether when P2PC spreads via the friendship networks within companies. A “coach” becomes anyone within an organization who you suspect may have a great answer for you ~ anyone.
~16~ Managers who wholeheartedly invest in P2PC repeatedly report back to me about the wealth of previously untapped knowledge that they have discovered within their people. To paraphrase, it often sounds something like this, “Who knew these people were so brilliant? Why didn’t they ever tell me this stuff before?” How is this a different benefit than the others listed so far? Managers grow in the faith and belief they have in their people; they expect more so that they themselves feel released… babysitting and micro-managing steadily disappears. The quality of delegation improves dramatically.
~17~ Personal initiative and accountability grows as people take responsibility for helping each other over and above getting the job done. This happens because…
~18~ Work processes become redefined in terms of people-production versus task-production. A beautiful, beautiful thing in any workplace with far-reaching implications.
~19~ Coaching becomes aligned with self-improvement and growth, and progressing from “good to great.” Any stigma of coaching only being for poor performers, problem children or must-salvage-this cases goes away. When considered alone, the benefits of coaching are numerous, and giving people practice at it at work will have ripple effects which extend to their families and their volunteer, civic and community work.
~20~ P2PC results in increased trust within an organization, and that may be the greatest benefit of all. People will sometimes ask me why trust is not one of my values in MWA. I think of trust more as a result of living all our other values: People trust us when we have earned their trust because we are trust-worthy. Living our values consistently has made our behavior predictable for others to count on and trust in. P2PC is a trust-builder in that the person being coached is stating an intention to work on something and improving. That verbal statement of intention begs a commitment we have to follow up on if our future word is to mean anything at all.
There are more benefits to Peer to Peer Coaching. I could easily write another article from the point of view of how P2PC relates to each of the nineteen values of Managing with Aloha, and to a few others that I did not specifically call out in that book.
What I tried to do here is list those which I most often hear back about from my SLC coaching clients, for P2PC has been in the MWA Toolkit from day one. Like the D5M, I think of P2PC most with the Hawaiian value of ‘Ike loa, to know well, for in a world of human beings who count on each other, the learning of who people are and the knowledge they represent is our greatest gift. Life is not a solo journey.