Successful leaders have long understood the importance of coaching and many will have already worked with a coach to help them become the best leader possible. Likewise, many high-performance organisations, including schools, recognise the value of coaching for their managers and leaders, investing in a variety of training and development opportunities. But coaching need not be limited to leaders nor accessed only via of costly training programmes.
There are organisations that value the development of colleagues, both personally and professionally so highly that they employ a full-time coach. Such ‘executive’ style coaching has long been part of the corporate culture where the idea of providing dedicated coaching for colleagues has grown out of the belief that happy staff make for best outcomes and successful organisations.
However, few educational organisations have the resources to employ a full-time coach for staff, nor indeed is it necessary for such organisations to incur such an expense. In fact, coaching among peers can be a highly effective and financially prudent way to build comradery, boost performance and bolster collaboration within the high-performance educational culture.
Here are three ways to create a culture of feedback and powerful peer coaching:
- Turn meetings into coaching sessions. In addition to providing work updates, meetings can be an important forum for peer coaching in the form of collaborative problem solving. A good way to facilitate this kind of coaching is to turn meetings into a Socratic seminar of sorts, where everyone comes prepared to discuss their challenges relating to the project and ask each other guiding questions to discover solutions to problems and contribute to the execution on a plan.
- Create a culture of feedback.Every innovation, piece of work or project can become an opportunity to provide feedback in an effort to facilitate continuous improvement. At the close of each piece of work or project have team members discuss what worked and where there were opportunities for improvement. In addition to providing group feedback, create a structure in which team members provide both positive and constructive feedback to individual members of the team. Not only does this process codify a culture of accountability, it also provides a great platform for leadership development.
- Encourage individual coaching relationships.While innovation teams and meetings are natural opportunities for peer coaching, individual coaching can be an excellent way for staff to build rapport and help each other accomplish professional and personal goals. Peer coaches must be prepared to listen and ask questions that help improve clarity rather than providing direction. The caveat is that not all employees will be comfortable as being the coach at first, but peer coaching relationships require time, reciprocity, trust and confidentiality in order to flourish.
These three elements can help schools, academies and other organisations cultivate deep camaraderie and engagement among staff, while building a foundation for high performance, consistent growth and ownership among peers.
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