Coaching Skills for Peers: Extending Influence


Many people think of coaching solely as a management technique. Although coaching skills provide managers with the means to get business results while creating solid relationships, the value of coaching in other arenas is often overlooked. Utilizing coaching skills is also beneficial when cooperating and collaborating with others, developing influence within the organization, and getting effective business results.

Peer coaching is not a new idea, but is not widely practiced. In fact, there are significant barriers to its effective use. In some organizations, the "command-and-control" style of management is so entrenched that position power seems to be the only lever available to get others to consider a request.

More and more, though, organizations are flattening out, abandoning a rigid hierarchy, and encouraging people to come together across boundaries, divisions, and departments to unite efforts and talents in ways that may not have been possible before. Eliminating territorial attitudes and interdepartmental rivalries, and encouraging teamwork provides for endless possibilities.

Peer coaching requires many of the same coaching skills that managers utilize when coaching Representatives. However, peer coaching also demands a special sensitivity to relative situations. For example, a manager may address an issue directly: "John, I need to get some numbers from you on the Simpson project."

With a peer, a less direct approach is needed. Peer coaching requires asking questions, gaining an understanding of the other person's issues and viewpoints, and identifying areas of shared interest or concern. Peer coaching doesn't necessarily involve quid pro quo - "I'll do this, if you'll do that." But, peer coaching does involve identifying areas where one team member can be of assistance to another team member, or where the combined efforts of team members provide the most beneficial results.

As with all coaching skills, the most important piece of peer coaching is listening to understand. Learning more about various priorities allows people to identify areas for collaboration, while strengthening relationships and seeing team members as valued individuals. A team member's greatest untapped resource may be the opportunity to reach across boundaries, combine strengths, and achieve personal goals as well as the goals of the organization.

Quick Tip

  • Seeing the "big picture"
  • Asking questions
  • Understanding the other person's point of view
  • Identifying areas of shared interest/concern


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