Peer coaching groups are one of the most useful mechanisms you can design for your career. Growing a career/business is complex, and it is much easier to face challenges with others who are in the same boat as you. In a peer coaching group, you and a group of professionals can come together to listen, learn, and share your career paths and projects.
During these meetings, the group members discuss goals, challenges, or simply what is happening in their professional lives. In between sessions, you’ll have a group of people you can rely on for support during the projects you are embarking on.
You may not be in a location where a group is readily available, so you may have to set one up yourself. In any case, to have the greatest impact on your professional life, it’s imperative to make sure your peer group is the right one for you.
Increase the Group’s Impact
1. Find Your Peers
The first and most important step when searching for a group is to surround yourself with people on a similar professional path. There may be groups that are already set up near you, but which may not be a good fit. Perhaps the members are in different places in their career, or you may simply have little to no chemistry. Don’t settle. Find the one that works for you.
Ideally, your group will include people you admire and whom you can learn from and vice versa. Read more about the benefits of peer coaching groups in Peer Coaching and How It Can Benefit Your Business.
2. If One Isn’t Available, Create One
The groups can be organized either internally at your company or externally. They can also be formal with moderators or informal. Sizes may vary, starting as small as two or three people. As an example, I am in two groups, both of which include six people.
I suggest finding a good mix of people – in one of my groups, we have an expert in communications and another in wellness. People with different expertise and backgrounds bring different points of view to the table. They may help you see something you never thought about before the meeting.
3. Create a Safe Space
Confidentiality is key and creates a space that is secure and promotes interaction. The more comfortable the team members are when receiving and giving feedback, the more likely those in the group will grow professionally. When a basic safe interaction has been established, the group will feel more comfortable in sharing.
4. Be Honest
We all have blind spots. If we feel safe, hearing the truth tends to be easier. Only when we know where we are truly standing will we have a choice about where we want to go. It is also important to not hold back if you have something you think will make a difference to another person in the group, even if it’s difficult to say — the more honest the communication, the greater the impact.
5. Find the Structure that Works for You
Initially, we didn’t follow a set structure or organization in one of my groups. When we realized we weren’t focusing on our goals, we decided to set up a schedule and agenda. As a result of establishing that, we now meet once a month, and each person takes turns speaking for 30 minutes. First, we talk about the challenges we are currently facing or discuss new projects we are working on. Next, the rest of the group makes suggestions to help the person. They may also suggest resources, such as sharing contacts. Finally, the person commits to future steps to be taken based on the suggestions.
In the following session, we then review what transpired in the time since the last meeting and follow the same agenda from the previous meeting. During the time between sessions, we also have a group chat set up where we can share important updates or milestones. Being able to communicate whenever we need to allows us to support each other if anybody requires additional help.
I view peer coaching groups as essential in today’s work environment. We are constantly facing high levels of complexity, and the best way to navigate it all is with others. When you join a group, you are essentially no longer alone. Your peer coaching group will support you and your company’s growth.