Many of you know that I participated in the IT Leaders Program in 2006-2007. Seems like such a long time ago, yet still very recent. I stay in touch with many folks from that program. We sometimes call on each other for a bit of advice, or to offer "co-coaching". I may call on a friend of mine at Cal Sac on advice to work through a problem, or someone may ping me for help. Because my cohort are all in different institutions, we aren't mired by the same issues, so can offer unique perspectives in addressing questions.
Recently, I helped create guidelines for peer co-coaching in a distributed environment. In looking for background material, I came across an excellent article Co-Coaching: "I'll Coach You if You'll Coach Me" by career expert Marty Nemko. I wanted to share this with you here.
In his article, Nemko gives these benefits to co-coaching:
You and your friend, by definition, like each other, so there’s less risk of incompatibility than between a coach and a paying client.
Your friend has a head start over a professional because, when the first session starts, he already knows you very well.
Getting coached can feel disempowering, but if, half the time, you’re coaching another person, it evens out.
Because you know each other well,you both can insightfully suggest problems worth addressing.
For co-coaching to work well, Nemko offers these "ground rules":
Agree that everything said in the session is strictly confidential: “What goes on here, stays here.”
Say something like, “Tell me the problem you’d like to work on.”
"Would you like me to just listen, ask questions for clarification, or to get you to think more deeply about the problem, or make suggestions?"
“What have you tried or considered already? Any other options you see?” Write all the options. If you’d like to add an option, ask, “Would you mind if I added one?”
“What do you see as the pros and cons of each?”
“So, what do you think you want to do?”
“Do you feel we’ve adequately addressed your problem for now?”
“Next week, would you like me to ask you whether your solution worked?” If so, write it down, so you remember to ask. Also, that makes the client feel accountable.
If the half hour isn’t up yet, ask, “Is there another problem you’d like to take a look at?”
At the half-hour mark, trade roles.
Peer co-coaching works best when you are paired with someone you know well, where you trust each other to be open. If this interests you, certainly find a friend and set up some time together and practice. But co-coaching can also work well when you are paired with someone you don't know, if you are both honest about issues, and respectful when offering help. If any of you would like to engage in co-coaching, and need help finding a partner, let me know and I'll help you.