A Year in the Life of a Manager Development Programme | Part Six
Readers of this series, “A Year in the Life of a Manager Development Programme” will know that the Programme consists of a series of workshops. The workshop focus on the leadership challenges that the participants face in their daily working lives. But that’s not all. Another key feature of the Programme is Peer Group Coaching Sessions.
Peer Group Coaching Sessions
Each workshop in the Manager Developer Programme is followed by a separate Peer Coaching Session. The aim of these sessions is twofold.
1 To allow the participants on the course to reflect on what they’ve learned and to give their feedback – both to me and to each other – on their personal progress
2 To ensure that the client company gets a solid return on the financial investment it is making in the Manger Developer Programme.
Change in Action
The Peer Group Coaching Sessions promote the fact that real change happens when participants are back in the office and applying what they have learned to their roles.
They acknowledge that ‘nothing changes in the classroom,’ and that there is no return on investment for a company while its staff is sitting in a training room and not at their desks.
How to begin the Peer Group Coaching process
To introduce the Peer Group Coaching sessions I sent each of the participants an introductory email with the following explanation of what they could expect:
“Each participant comes to each session with a development challenge or work issue they want to work on. Each individual has airtime to talk about that issue, and the other participants then provide input, suggestions and advice on how they might make progress that the individual can choose to act on or not. At the beginning of the next meeting, the individual reports back on what they did and what progress they made.”
Highly structured, highly focused
Each four-hour Peer Group Coaching Session is highly structured into 20-minute sections. The sessions are action-focused, dynamic and carefully chaired in a way that ensures that no time is lost in small talk and ‘violent agreement.’
The sessions are designed and chaired in such a way as to give participants the time to come together and to connect with each other over a range of issues. These issues may or may not be linked to the workshops the participants have taken part in with me, but are always challenges taken from their daily working lives.
Highlighting common challenges, connecting over solutions
In these particular sessions, I identified a diverse range of challenges, many of which I’m sure are common across sectors and industries.
For example, participants talked about:
Concern and anxiety about working with a new employee and introducing them into a well established team
Concern about learning their way around some new and complicated software
Concern about the responsibilities involved in working on a big internal project
Concern surrounding a dysfunctional working relationship where one member of staff was continually rescuing another and blocking that person’s development of personal resilience
Concern around the challenge that faces this group of managers in effectively managing their own direct managers
Their final concern was interesting: they reported that as they saw their skills develop, so they were becoming more aware of the management styles of other people and observing and reflecting on other ways of working, both good and bad.
Reactions and conclusions
The conclusion from the Peer Group Coaching Sessions included:
“I feel that I’ve been given confirmation that I’m doing the right thing and I’m handling a particular problem in the right way”
“I’ve got to know my peers better”
“I’ve learned about other peoples’ role and subsequently learned more about the company we all work for”
“Many of the problems we face, we share – so we can support each other in managing them as we move forward”
Each of the four-hour long sessions was fully attended, despite everyone’s busy schedules, and it has become clear that the participants have valued this opportunity time to spend together – and benefit from the purposeful reflection it has allowed.
Participants have asked that laptops and phone be removed from the next sessions, to allow for greater concentration. And they have agreed among themselves to continue the Peer Group meetings once the Manager Developer Programme has been completed and fully implemented.
Feedback to the Programme
The Peer Coaching Sessions also provide an opportunity for participants to reflect on what they’re gaining from the Programme. Feedback has been very positive:
“I enjoyed the dynamic style of the sessions”
The delivery was engaging and effective”
“The discussions stayed relevant and on track – we didn’t lose our way or waste time”
“The take away reference materials are useful”
Follow the next stages of the Manager Development Programme by reading the full blog post series.