Book Summary: Peer Coaching At Work

Peer coaching is an underappreciated, low-cost, and underused coaching strategy.

Each month, tens of thousands of professionals and entrepreneurs gather in peer coaching circles. Millions more attend mastermind meetings.

It hasn't completely caught on in businesses for whatever reason. The creators of Peer Coaching at Work want to make peer coaching more accessible to companies worldwide.

This is how you're going to make it happen. We'll look at why this is so vital in today's market, as well as a three-step process for implementing it at your organization.

Let's get to it!

VUCA: Why We Need This Now

A manager looking at the vision of the company from a close distance, and telling his staff about it.

We are all aware that we live in a turbulent, unpredictable, complicated, and confusing environment. We've been hearing for years that the rate of change is speeding up, but it's finally reached a point where we need to take action.

It's no longer enough to flawlessly execute on what's immediately in front of us. We must adapt to our surroundings and improve our ability to see around corners.

Continuous improvement and development were once trendy buzzwords; today, they're a must.

We must discover antidotes to each of the VUCA characteristics - vision, understanding, clarity, and agility - in this workplace. Let's take a look at each of these parts individually.


When done right, vision is a collaborative endeavor. The more eyes on the issue, the better you and your team struggle to make sense of a complicated environment. Getting everyone on the same page about how to cope with volatility is crucial to your success.


Making sense of a variety of signals is what understanding is all about. This necessitates examining and integrating a vast number of data pieces. Again, the more eyes on the scene, the more likely you will notice patterns that might be used to chart a course ahead.


Clarity, which is close to understanding, is what you receive on a team when everyone discusses what they're going through in their roles. Each team member sees things differently. Bringing them together to discuss their perspectives is crucial for everyone to be on the same page.


A male flying with a rocket in high speed. The same goes when we need to respond to inquiries.

Lastly, agility may not appear to be a case of "more is better." But, the better your team's communication regarding the larger picture, the faster and more responsive you can be as a whole.

In a VUCA environment, you must learn as rapidly as possible and from as many different perspectives as possible. Accessing the knowledge of others on your team is critical in this quest.

In the book, there are two techniques offered. Peer coaching in pairs and peer coaching in teams or groups are two types of peer coaching. We'll concentrate on groups for the remainder of this synopsis.

Step 1: Building the Relationship - Creating a Positive Holding Environment

Once you've agreed that utilizing your whole team's expertise and talents to address the VUCA problem is a smart idea, it's time to start planning your program.

As the authors point out, a successful peer coaching process necessitates a solid and trusted connection among your team members.

Assume you're forming a peer coaching group to discuss best practices in your respective roles at work. Or you're researching how future market trends might affect your company.

There are four sub-steps in this process.

Mutual, Compatible Selection

First, persons who join peer coaching groups with a genuine desire to learn about and develop themselves are more likely to benefit from them.

Suppose they are compelled to join the group. In that case, you will discover that some members will not fully participate, creating an unpleasant dynamic and reducing the group's overall efficacy.

While some opposition to a new "thing" is to be expected, making involvement voluntary will eventually improve the dynamic.

Creating a Positive Holding Environment - Promoting a Group Culture of Psychological Safety

A team brainstorming together and reaching a conclusion, showing that every idea is heard.

The next thing to think about is how you'll make your group members feel comfortable in this situation.

Suppose individuals believe that really engaging will make them vulnerable and exposed. In that case, engagement will be superficial, leading to simple talks that never get to the heart of an issue.

You must establish certain ground rules, such as respecting confidentiality, treating others with respect during the feedback process, and displaying compassion.

Checking In

It's critical to structure peer coaching sessions so that everyone has enough time to express themselves. This should normally happen towards the start of the meeting to allow everyone an opportunity to physically and psychologically adjust to the discussion and give it their full attention.

Table agenda items, provide a progress report or mention any major accomplishments since the last meeting are good ideas for a check-in.

The Need for a Working Agreement

A document containing the detailed working agreement, stamped by an approval.

Finally, a working agreement on how the meetings should be organized is required to guarantee full participation. These sessions fulfill the goals you set for them.

You should go through it at the start of the meeting to set expectations and then again at the conclusion to make sure you received what you wanted out of it.

Here are some things to think about include in your working agreement:

  • How the organization deals with disagreements and conflict
  • How responsibilities are given, with a special focus on ensuring that they do not obstruct others' learning
  • How you'll keep the group accountable for the learning process, and how you'll hold the group responsible for the outcomes you want.

Step 2: Creating Success Through Honing Relational Practices

For peer coaching groups to be successful, participants must acquire self-awareness and relationship, and social skills.

Let's take a look at each one separately.

Building Self-awareness

A female building her mental self-awareness, knowing her own emotional response, strength and weakness needed for interpersonal trust.

People need to feel secure trying and exploring new ideas, no matter what topic they choose for their peer coaching group. This necessitates a sense of interpersonal trust among the participants.

Individual self-awareness, which involves knowing one's own emotional responses, personal strengths and shortcomings, and having a strong sense of self-worth, is required for interpersonal trust in the group.

As the authors point out, self-aware people better understand what they need to work on internally and what they can offer their peers.

There's also the question of self-regulation, which is controlling challenging and possibly disruptive emotions like irritation, rage, or worry. Frustration, rage, and anxiety will be a frequent component of the group coaching dynamic, whether you like it or not.

Developing Relational Skills

As your peer coaching sessions progress, the ability to give constructive feedback to members and social support to try out new behaviors and ideas becomes increasingly important.

The council model and the forum model are two tried and true strategies for accomplishing this.

Each council member can express input, voice a problem, or otherwise engage in the conversation using the council model. There are a few basic steps to follow:

To keep the group on track, a timekeeper is appointed.

  • Each individual who is presenting an issue gets three minutes to do so.
  • The rest of the group has 3 minutes to present yes/no or short response questions.
  • After the presentation and inquiry, the council has ten minutes to give counsel to the presenter.

The forum model is an alternate framework that accomplishes the same goal but focuses on a single individual for a longer time. This provides a more in-depth look at a single person's problem, but it also restricts the number of persons who may speak at each session.

Step 3: Making Peer Coaching a Habit

A team member helping her male team member coding and interpersonal skills.

For the most part, peer coaching will be a new ability for your team. It takes time for a new method to come together and provide results, just like everything else.

As a result, you should consider how to make peer coaching a habit and how they may practice these abilities both within and outside of official sessions.

The main objective is to make peer coaching groups a regular occurrence and an intrinsic part of the company culture.

There are three steps you may take to guarantee this occurs.

First, consider how you might include peer coaching in your daily contacts and engagements. What can you do to encourage your team to share what they're learning with one another, whether it's from experience or from other sources?

Second, consider how you might convince others in your workplace of the advantages of peer coaching groups. The focus of high-performing groups is on functional roles and problem-solving.

Are there any other departments in your firm that may benefit from what you're doing? Invite them to attend one of your meetings and encourage them to do the same with their teams.

Third, as a leader, demonstrate behaviors that promote reciprocal and interdependent learning.

From Peer Groups to Individual Coaching

A peer coach asking questions regarding the new request that her peer is asking.

When you encourage your team to consider incorporating peer coaching into their daily job, you'll want them to remember a few guidelines.

Principle 1: Help is most effective when both the provider and the recipient are prepared. If it's evident that the other individual isn't ready to welcome your assistance, don't offer it.

Principle 2: When the assisting connection is judged to be equitable, effective aid happens. Check to see if the advice you're offering isn't too much for the person receiving it.

Principle 3: Help is most effective when the helper is in the appropriate, helpful role. You may assist someone in a variety of ways. As an expert (you have specialized knowledge or abilities), as a doctor (you can assist in the diagnosis of a problem), or as a process consultant (helping to determine what help is actually needed).

Principle 4: Everything you say or do is an intervention that affects the relationship's future. Even if you choose not to intervene in a circumstance where someone requires assistance, your decision has implications. Little things count in any relationship.

Principle 5: Effective assisting begins with a simple question. Even if you're certain, you know what's correct, treat the new request as though it's something you've never done before.

Principle 6: The client is the one who owns the issue. Don't be fooled into claiming the problem because you've dealt with similar issues before.

Principle 7: You'll never know everything. Do not fall into the trap of adopting an expert position and delivering the answer, even if you are a content specialist in the issue's area.


As we mentioned at the start, peer coaching is one of the most underappreciated and beneficial types of learning you can engage in. You'll appreciate it as you try to sort out how to traverse this crazy world we live in just now.

These are the days when you'll need all hands on deck, and this is how you'll get there.

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