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Peer Coaching

“Coaching, to put it simply, is the process of helping others to improve performance now and developing their capacity to perform well in the future." [1]

Peer coaching defined

"Peer coaching is a confidential process through which two or more professional colleagues work together to reflect on current practices; expand, refine, and build new skills; share ideas; teach one another; conduct classroom research; or solve problems in the workplace. " [2]

Benefits of peer coaching

  • Peer coaches hold you accountable for improvements you want to make. [1]
  • If you are a coach, you also grow because you want to provide the best advice possible. [1]
  • This is a way to propogate best practices across an organization. [3]

Getting started as a peer coach

If you are interested in entering a peer-to-peer coaching relationship, find people who you trust and who have the knowledge and skills to assist you, ideally, they should have coached in the past. [3], [4], [2] The coach does not necessarily have to be from the same field that the individual receiving coaching is from; this may actually be beneficial. Once you have found the right people, and they agree to assist you, you can then take the next steps.

  • Establish meeting protocol. Will you meet in person, on the phone, through a webinar, Skype, Lync, etc. Also determine how often and when you will meet. [1].
  • Establish expectations and goals. What do you both expect to get out of the relationship? How will you determine success? [1].


In a peer coaching scenario, the individuals involved typically meet to discuss what is about to transpire, what to focus on, and what to possibly try; then there is an observation period where the coach watches the individual; and finally, this is followed by a post-observation feedback session. [2] Individuals involved in the session would also have to agree on the method of data collection, e.g., video, notes, study groups, etc. [2]

When on a call, try to divide the time equally between the coach and individual receiving guidance. [4], [5] Naturally, this is flexible based on the situation.

This is only one possible method for peer coaching. It is really up to the paired team to decide what they are interested in improving and how to do it. This could be a great way to help implement ideas gained at a workshop or conference.

During part of the process, the peer coach should also receive some assessment of their performance. [3]

Finally, the individual receiving coaching should receive both verbal and written feedback on the performance.

Tips to success

  • “Work with the willing." [6] No matter the good intentions, if there is not agreement from both sides, learning will not take place.
  • Be very clear on the objectives and desired results of the peer coaching session. [5]
  • Ensure that you meet regularly for honest discussions of progress. [1].
  • Rather than criticize ideas, provide alternatives. [1].
  • Deliver on what you promise. [1].
  • Ask questions to help understand the situation, the problem, and the solution. [1].
  • Focus on the positive rather than try to eradicate weaknesses. "In providing directive feedback, your main responsibility is to identify strengths and clarify areas for improvement that address your client's goals, while at the same time finding ways to reduce his or her defensiveness." [7]
  • Try to provide additional resources to help individual grow. [6]
  • Give your full attention while listening, do not have other distraction going. [4]
  • Determine action items to move forward. [4] Use these action items to build goals. Hold each person accountable for their action items.
  • Time must be set aside for peer coaching opportunities. [8] Get the appointments scheduled into the calendar ahead of time. [5]
  • Take time to prepare feedback prior to the feedback session so that you have time to balance it. [7]
  • Try different approaches, e.g., book review, problem-solving, professional development strategies, etc. [5]
  • Agree to a minimum of two meetings. [9]

Tools for peer coaching

Recommended Reading

More information on this topic


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Friedman, S. (2010). How to cultivate a peer coaching network. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Robbins, P. (1991). Chapter 1. A Definition of Peer Coaching. How to Plan and Implement a Peer Coaching Program. Retrieved from
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Cordon, D. (n.d.). 4.1.11 Peer coaching. Retrieved from
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Johnson, S. (2011). 10 tips to get started with peer coaching. Development Crossroads. Retrieved from
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Walling, T. (n.d.). The Power of Peer Coaching. Retrieved from
  6. 6.0 6.1 Watanabe, T. (2011). 10 Peer Coaching Tips in 10 Minutes at ISTE. wwwatanabe. Retrieved from
  7. 7.0 7.1 Friedman, S. (2010). Honing your skills as a peer coach. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from
  8. Root, C. (2010). 10 tips for peer to peer coaching. Bright Hub. Retrieved from
  9. McLean, R. (2008). AIESEC Peer Coaching Guide. Retrieved from

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