The truth is that many professionals feel isolated. Think about it. People working in a company have few if any options. They can’t go to their boss, they certainly can’t go to their staff, because that would be inappropriate, and sometimes they don’t feel comfortable going to their peers. The reality? The higher you go in an organization the more lonely it becomes.
Entrepreneurs are even more isolated. They have few people who even understand what they are doing let alone reaching out for guidance or as sounding boards.
The answer to loneliness and isolation just might be peer coaching. Unlike mentoring, mastermind groups and advisory committees, peer coaching groups are professionally led and address specific needs of the group.
What is peer coaching?
While there are almost as many definitions as there are groups out there, this is how I explain it. Peer coaching is a group of men or women that meet together with a coach to achieve a specific result.
What is the role of the coach?
My first task is to build a highly functioning group. I have screening criteria that ensures the best possible participants are chosen for each group. It’s imperative that I create and maintain a safe environment. People need to be able to express themselves without fear and a protocol of strict confidentially is adhered to. Lack of confidentially would erode the member’s confidence very quickly, destroying the essence of the group.
In addition, I help the group decide on the specific objective they want to achieve. The coach also makes sure that the group moves forward, is meeting their goals and accomplishing what they want to as individuals and as a group.
Why do groups fail?
The reasons many groups fail are that they are unfocused, try to meet too many objectives or don’t move along at a pace that keeps people engaged. Sometimes there is lack of trust and people can’t talk freely and openly about their challenges. It’s vitally important that a safe environment is created so members get real value for their time and energy.
Who seeks peer coaching?
When I coach peer groups, it’s usually one of two things. Either it’s people who are not sure they’re ready for one-on-one coaching or people who really need exposure to new ideas from like-minded people. Most of my groups are made up of people at similar levels but from different organizations.
For example, for one of my peer coaching groups is focused specifically on executive women. Twice a year, I host an invitation-only Executive Women Networking Social. I personally invite women who are director level and above, with direct report responsibility. For this group I also look for profit and loss responsibility of $250 million or above. This helps to ensure that the women are likely to have similar responsibilities and challenges.
Another individual that benefits greatly from peer coaching are small business owners. These people tend to be very isolated because they are the driving force behind their company. They are almost completely self-directed and self-reliant. For them more than just about any other group, the buck stops at their desk.
As business owners they are running the show and can really benefit from bouncing their ideas off of a group of people in the trenches, like they are. Getting help with challenges and direction setting can move the needle quickly for them. This type of group works best when businesses are similar in size but come from different industries. I focus on entrepreneurs that are NOT from competing companies. It’s important that these businesses have a specific revenue range and have employees, so they are experiencing similar challenges.
What makes my peer coaching different?
I meet with each individual one-on-one and we go through an intake process. I ask a series of key questions so I’m clear on what their issues and concerns are, and what goals they want to accomplish. As the facilitator, I’m always helping to move their goal forward, making connections and connecting the dots for each individual and the group as a whole.
I typically offer at least one goal setting session a year as well as a yearly recap. In other words, what progress have they made, and what do we want to focus on in the coming year. In addition, I host an optional retreat. We get out of the conference room or the boardroom and move to a relaxed environment. This stimulates the mind, fosters more well rounded relationships, promotes different conversations and increases innovate thinking.
Sometimes we participate as a group in volunteer events. For example, at Ronald McDonald House, we cooked for families of children with life threatening illnesses and at Simon Says Give we helped fill backpacks for low-income kids. Sure it’s one way for us to give back, but also to build relationships with each other in a different way. I focus on relationship building because it’s one of the most critical pieces. We’re building a network, a sounding board, sort of like your own kitchen cabinet or family, if you will, that you can use well beyond the peer coaching group.
For me setting up a truly successful group is more of an art than a science. I have all the tools in place to build a highly functioning peer group. Then I add my special flair to make it fun, engaging and valuable long after the group has finished their formal charter.
As always, your thoughts are important to me and I would like to hear from you. Please share, comment and like. Thanks for reading!
- Posted by Regina
- On February 8, 2018
- 0 Comments