By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

The future of work is hybrid, and it is now. 

As we move steadfastly into the hybrid work model, it becomes abundantly clear that this world of work will need new skills and approaches. In the post-pandemic world, organizations will have to re-evaluate the drivers of employee engagement and employee experience since the older drivers of engagement no longer remain valid. 

With the economy ahead promising to be unquestionably different, organizations have to now focus on upskilling initiatives to thrive in this new world order. New skills, processes, working mechanisms, systems of collaboration, team building, and new ways of thinking are the need of the hour. These cannot be addressed with a day-long training program. Developing these new skills to thrive in today’s complex work environment needs focused and continuous learning. Something that organizations can achieve with peer coaching. 

Read: Peer Coaching – The Critical Pillar to Drive Employee Experience and Engagement in Hybrid Workplaces

But how can organizations create a peer coaching culture?

Develop an army of peer coaches

To create a peer coaching culture an organization needs peer coaches. Looking at the employee base and identifying the natural coaches in their midst is the first step. However, often people themselves are unaware of their coaching capabilities. Helping people identify their inherent coaching capabilities assists in identifying peer coaches who can contribute to the organizational learning environment. 

Apart from the ones who are naturally disposed to coaching, organizations can also look at high-performing employees or those employees who show exceptional technical or power skills and coach them to become peer coaches. 

Managers can identify the potential coaches in their teams according to their skills and make them a part of the peer coaching network. Managers themselves can embark on a learning journey and take coaching to become good peer coaches. 

Read: Help your Leaders Transition to a Digital World – Start Peer Coaching Initiatives

Destigmatize asking for help

It is heartening to see that organizations are now paying close attention to their employee’s mental health. With the pandemic pushing employees towards burnout, the conversation around mental health and seeking help to alleviate stressors has become mainstream.

Seeking help has been stigmatized as a sign of weakness for the longest time and it is time to change that.

There are many who are still not sensitized to the unique challenges of their peers. Setting up a peer coaching culture helps in beating stigmas and creates a healthy work environment by educating people on the importance of mental health and the adverse impacts of poor mental health and burnout. Actively identifying toxic behaviors and addressing them, sends out a strong message, that only healthy habits that are conducive to the workplace shall be encouraged. 

Peer coaching helps people become more self-aware by providing contextual information. Since it is a continuous and non-judgmental process, people are more open to receiving feedback. The continuous nature of the program also makes sure that people can circle back to their coaches when they find themselves falling into unhealthy work patterns or ideologies. Proactive support provided by peer coaching makes sure that the behavioral change needed to destigmatize aging concepts is implemented and internalized. 

Promote continuous learning

To develop a peer coaching culture, organizations have to work towards developing a culture that promotes continuous learning. This ties in with the need of the times, where changing business dynamics, a rapidly evolving technology landscape, and the increasing focus on digital transformation demand new skill sets. What is clear is that the pace of change we are experiencing is only going to accelerate in the post-pandemic world. 

The needs of the hybrid workplace also demand the learning of new power skills and the unlearning of certain old methodologies. Organizations that offer avenues to improve their employee’s skill sets by helping them identify their learning needs using contextual data are more likely to see an invested, engaged, and productive workforce. 

Encouraging continuous learning also drives a peer coaching culture as then the workforce is motivated to lean in towards their coaches to seek guidance on how to best navigate their work environments and ensure that they can remain on a growth path. 

Lead by example

Peer coaching can play a big role in helping leaders develop and evolve their leadership styles to suit the hybrid work environment. Managers now have to evolve and become virtual leaders from remote bosses. It is time for organizational leaders to lead by example and leverage peer coaching and become peer coaches themselves to navigate the challenges of this hybrid workplace.

When employees see people of authority encouraging, seeking, and participating in peer coaching, it also prompts them to follow their example. The goal of peer coaching is to help each other find solutions and unlock an individual’s potential to maximize their performance. When employees across the organization see seniors taking the right steps to enhance their performance and learn new behaviors and skills to thrive in the hybrid workplace, they are also motivated to follow the same. The legitimacy that peer coaching gets from leadership involvement helps in establishing a strong peer coaching culture within the organization. 

In Conclusion

With no playbook telling us how to manage these challenging and inexperienced times, developing a peer coaching culture becomes imperative as we go back to work. The workforce today needs understanding, empathy, and support more than ever before to forge ahead in their career paths. Establishing a peer coaching culture in these times gives employees the support that they need to validate and activate knowledge, reduce work-related stressors, identify growth paths and avenues of improvement, and increase engagement. All of these factors contribute towards a healthy and resilient workforce- one that is completely ready to manage the upheavals and uncertainties that the future holds. 

Connect with us to see how our AI-powered coaching platform can help you deliver a robust and thriving coaching culture across your organization. 

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

One of the key priorities for HR is to identify avenues to improve employee performance and drive employee growth. Invariably, HR turns to traditional learning and development programs: training, conferences, and webinars and often even employing the infamous job-shadowing or cross-training. While these traditional opportunities have their place an employee’s life, these annual or bi-annual activities are hardly impactful enough to drive employee engagement, productivity, or retention.

And yet, we keep doing the same thing expecting different outcomes. The irony is unmissable. 

But now this story has to change. The gargantuan change and disruption that the pandemic has thrust upon organizations are compelling them to re-evaluate strategies to drive employee engagement and productivity while working to close the skills gap, both technical and critical. That apart, organizations need to also focus on creating a winning culture that helps teams go through change and strengthens organizational resilience. 

For this, organizations need to focus on building organizational EQ skills, and to do this they need to turn towards Peer Coaching.

Peer Coaching integrates expertise across teams 

Peer Coaching creates small groups of selected employees from across the organization who come together to learn from each other and coach one another to navigate work challenges. It is an informal method that allows employees to share their expertise and provide assistance and feedback to each other to overcome challenges and augment professional development. 

Since Peer Coaching is a great format for developing key skills like self-awareness, empathy, flexibility, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, active listening, problem-solving, etc., it allows for self-discovery in a low-risk setting. 

With insights and perspectives on areas of the organization they do not directly interact with, learners in the Peer Coaching format develop trusting relationships with their peer coach. This further strengthens the organizations’ ability to drive cross-functionality. 

Peer Coaching builds trust bridges and reduces over-reliance on few familiar faces 

The Peer Coaching format is based on non-judgmental, informal conversation. It combats the culture where everyone agrees on shared objectives but works in a way that optimizes functional or business unit goals. It breaks down employee clusters and combats distrust and unhealthy competition amongst team members. But most importantly, it helps in building trust bridges between team members and peers outside of the team. 

By engaging peers in the coaching process, the coaching activity is more democratized. This reduces the dependence of the organization on a few familiar faces and helps employees take advantage of the experience of their peers. 

Peer Coaching addresses misalignments 

Peer Coaching builds competence and helps organizations foster interpersonal trust and the value of group goals. As an informal process that is rooted in friendly exchanges rather than evaluative exchanges, it serves as a process to identify and address misalignments within the organizational framework.

With the hybrid work environment being the reality, this process helps in ironing out issues and resolve challenges that impede productivity, creativity, and collaboration. By providing people a forum to open up and address work and personal issues, organizations can increase employee productivity and ensure that all factors that influence employee engagement and experience are positively aligned. 

Peer Coaching prevents WFH burnout and helps teams re-think their future 

The conversation around WFH burnout is real. People now have to balance work, career growth, and life and recalibrate expectations and goals to meet the new world of work. Given the disruption at hand, many employees struggle to manage the challenges brought about by the new world of work. 

Whether it is identifying growth pathways, addressing issues, identifying learning gaps to drive career growth, improving visibility, and building inter-personal networks in remote environments, Peer Coaching helps the workforce with the skills they need to operate in this new world order. 

Peer Coaching drives accountability and opportunity to learn from real-world scenarios

Effective remote teams and WFH teams are focused on building consensus, camaraderie, and trust. They believe in brainstorming and innovation. 

Peer Coaching assists in developing these skills and helps employees grow by experiencing different working styles and feedback from their coaches, who are, ultimately, their peers. 

It enables information exchange and helps learners more about the challenges from real-world scenarios that their peer coaches have experienced. It also enables the smooth flow of tribal knowledge across teams and assists in driving greater accountability for following through on commitments and actions. 

Peer Coaching makes employees more self-aware 

Peer Coaching contributes to an individual’s metacognitive learning. Metacognition is the measure of an individual’s awareness of their own knowledge – what they know and what they don’t, and their ability to understand and control their cognitive processes. 

Peer Coaching helps employees become more self-aware of what they say and/or do or don’t. This awareness influences their actions, both personal and professional, and influences the collective team attitude. 

Self-awareness is also essential to drive meaningful diversity and inclusion initiatives and creates a process for recognizing and reintegrating the disenfranchised.

Peer Coaching for Teams’ Effectiveness 

Peer Coaching helps the entire organization rewire itself for resilience. 

Organization leaders can leverage algorithmic business thinking to hack growth and value and identify the skills needed to transition to this new digital world and use Peer Coaching to achieve them. 

Employees can use data-backed methods to assess their skills needs and reach out to peers to bridge these gaps. 

Peer Coaching essentially helps in developing a coaching culture that is ingrained into the organizational DNA. Team effectiveness then becomes an automatic consequence of Peer Coaching. 

Connect with us to see how our cutting-edge, AI-powered coaching platform to start your Peer Coaching program and help your teams improve their effectiveness.