Peer to peer coaching: A Lean Approach to “Manager as Coach”

With the rise of flat organisational structures and lean cultures, the expectation of an ideal corporate leader has changed from being the one who gives answers to the one who asks questions. The whole job of “managing people” is more and more a collaborative task, rather than a secret club of the few. How does peer to peer coaching answer this need?

Increasingly, coaching is becoming integral to the fabric of a learning culture—a skill that good managers at all levels need to develop and deploy.

The Leader as Coach by Herminia Ibarra and Anne Scoular from the Harvard Business Review Nov–Dec 2019 Issue

These organisational and cultural changes make it clear why coaching is so popular in corporate training. But the application of coaching on the job happens outside formal training, so it is vital to develop learning programs that are designed to take the insights from the classroom to practice.

So how could you cultivate a coaching mindset throughout an organization with an action learning approach? A lean and impactful way to do this is to set up peer to peer coaching sessions. In group coaching, the facilitator doesn’t coach each participant but creates a setting where peers can coach each other and practice coaching together.

Why peer to peer coaching?

Participants get to understand the benefits of coaching others, as well as being coached. Peer to peer coaching is a democratic way to develop new skills and leadership capacities.

One of the key points in coaching is the focus on powerful questions. This helps participants to:

  • Explore deeper issues behind problems
  • Develop proactive and solution-focused habits and behaviour
  • Support each other and create a psychologically safe environment for growth

How to set up an impactful peer to peer coaching program – an example

We have worked with companies in the design of manager as coach -programs and one of the key outcomes we encourage is to ripple the effects of training programs wider in the organisation.

Here is an example of how we normally do it:

The program is based on peer to peer coaching sessions using our best-selling GROW game, and online tools to record insights and keep track of development.

The Coaching Sessions

The coaching sessions are participative and hands-on learning experiences using our GROW Coaching Game as a concrete tool. In a one-hour game session, participants get to experience coaching, being coached, and observing a coaching situation.

The Grow Game

Our practical learning game is a simple tool for understanding and utilizing the GROW coaching model in action. The game encourages peer to peer coaching and helps managers to practice a coaching approach without the need to be a certified coach.

Throughout the program, participants use a Coaching Canvas to record their personal development objectives and next steps.

Tracking learning and scaling the impact

It is important that the participants reflect on their coaching and management practice and log insights and actions.

The learning does not stop at the workshops. Participants are encouraged to look for peer to peer to peer coaching or -coachee situations at work, where they can apply meaningful questions.

When participants self-organise further coaching game sessions at the workplace, all employees can have the same learning tools at their disposal.


Get started with our coaching canvas + game

You can purchase your own copy of our GROW game here. When you buy the game, you will get access to our Coaching Canvas, which you can download and print for the participants.

We recommend getting a copy of the game for each participant so that they can scale the impact and apply it with others outside the session. As a minimum, get one copy per three participants so you can organise the coaching peer games as trios.

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