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Peer coaching

The experiential learning can be significantly improved through the inclusion of coaching.  Coaching is a learning approach where the coachis guiding and supporting another person in improving its performance, life, and/or career through new knowledge, skills, and/or behaviours by turning activities into learning opportunities in a planned, purposeful, and systematic way. Coaching is not the same as mentoring because it is skills and performance related, rather than development and growth oriented.

There are many types of coaches: life coach, sports coach, business coach and peer coach are only some of the predominant types. Peer coaches develop their fellow colleagues, friends and acquaintances through sharing experience and helping each other on specific tasks or problems. WECoaches are envisioned as Peer Coaches due to the needs of the women entrepreneurs and women wanna-be-entrepreneurs for emotional and psychological support that helps individual learning and career success.  The emphasis of peer coaching is placed on a mutually beneficial partnership between two individuals of similar experience.  It helps the cochee develop self-reflection and identify specific areas where she might need improvement in skills and knowledge. As a coaching process, peer coaching is widely used in business and in education. As Peer coaches, the focus of WEcoaches are on relationships, life decisions, and career choices, while they aim at strengthening the skills of women entrepreneurs in the areas of assertiveness, communication, and increasing their knowledge of the business acumen.

Coaching as a process

It is very important that WECoaches develop a full understanding of the coaching process, as the same needs to be effective and efficient. The coaching has a beginning and an end.  It is important that the time frame and expectations are set at the beginning of the process. Coaching as a process also depends on the level of thrust of both parties and can only be successful if both parties are convinced that they can trust each other and that the coaching will deliver tangible results. WECoaches are advised to consider specific steps in building the relationship, and setting the frame and scope of coaching so the same can deliver the expected results.

The coaching process is more effective when there is a match between the WECoach and coachee, in terms of learning styles. Personality matching can be achieved through interviews or through the use of standard psychological testing as is the Myer Briggs-type instrument. The coachee needs should be matched with the expertise and experience of the WECoach.

The process should begin with a gap analysis which outlines the present skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of the coachee versus a desired state.  It can be done through the use of a SWOT analysis outlined in Appendix 6.  The exercise can help the coach identify sensitive issues such as biases, shortcomings, defensive behaviours and build the foundation for the changing behaviour required for acquiring new skills and knowledge. Once the gap analysis is successfully performed and there is an agreed set of goals, it is important to set a plan of action for the coachee, outlining meetings, assignments, and learning opportunities (More in chapter 4: Setting an agenda). The WECoach should use an appropriate set of goals for the coachee in order to stretch and challenge her.  In the last session, the coach and the coachee should engage in critical reflection of the process and determine whether the objectives of the coaching have been met.

GROW Coaching Model

There are many coaching models that provide a framework for the coaching process.  In the case of the WECoaches the most important models that can be used in strengthening the confidence of women to become entrepreneurs are the models that diverge from the generic GROW model. This is because the GROW model is focused on personal change which is deriving from experiential learning in a process that sees the coachee as functional rather than dysfunctional entity working with the peer coach as equal.[9]

The GROW Model is the most common framework used by coaches in the business environment. GROW is an acronym that stands for: Goal, Reality (Current Situation), Options, Way Forward.  

grow model

These elements stand for: (1) Goal: Help the coachee to clearly define goals which are stretching, challenging and inspirational. Goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound). (2) Reality: Help the coachee understand reality, and measure the gap between where they are now and where they want to be in the future. (3) Options and obstacles: Identify the challenges and obstacles that may prevent the coachee from achieving goals. Obstacles can take the form of insufficient time, lack of money and resources, unsuitable environment and inadequate skills. Get the coachee to consider all the possible options for reaching their goals and overcoming barriers. (4) Way forward: Help the coachee set the action plan.

The idea is to encourage the coachee to take responsibility and commit to specific actions in order to move forward toward the agreed goal. The coach wants to maximise the chances for a good outcome. To do this she needs to examine any potential obstacles, discuss ways of overcoming them, and agree on the resources and support needed for success. This creates the necessary desire and motivation on the part of the coachee.  Sample questions to lead the GROW coaching process are provided in Appendix 2.


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Hélène Seigneur, EU Project Manager

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