Peer Coaching Can Be Risky—Here’s Why

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In the business world, peer coaching — in which individuals of equal status come together for the purpose of mutual personal and professional development — is recognized for its potential to foster accountability, motivation, support, and other benefits  in the workplace. However, a new article in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science warns that these benefits can be undermined by critical risk factors that need to be understood and addressed.

These risks can exist on the individual level…

Individual factors that contribute to negative outcomes of PC include mind-sets and values, inadequate skills relevant to peer’s needs, lack of self-awareneJABS_72ppiRGB_150pixwss, oppositional stance toward relational learning, unrealistic expectations, or lack of motivation to learn, help, or engage.

…and on the interpersonal level:

[T]hese include lack of relational competence, such as inadequate communication skills, overdependence, or submissiveness creating a lack of balance between peers, bad intentions, and finally betrayal or regret.

In addition, the authors say, there are risks that exist at the contextual level, such as “a highly competitive culture, inappropriate incentives and rewards, and mismatching of peers.” The article goes on to describe the ways in which managers can be aware of these factors in order to minimize risk and ensure the success of peer coaching.

Click here to read “Exploring Risk Factors in Peer Coaching: A Multilevel Approach,” published by Polly Parker of The University of Queensland and Kathy E. Kram and Douglas T. Hall, both of the Boston University School of Management, forthcoming in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science and now available in the journal’s OnlineFirst section.

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