For the past year and a half across the PF team we have been experimenting with a system of peer coaching & mentoring, which we call the MC (mentor-coach) system. In the past, we had found it difficult to find time for reflection and when difficult conversations came up we often went to our teammates for advice, but none of us had formal coaching training or resources.
The MC structure is a circular format so that each person MCs and is MCed by another teammate. We provided resources on the Socratic Method, Quaker method, and GROW model, and created best practices for the team. Each pair meets typically meets for one hour each month. It’s meant to be a space for the mentee to talk about what’s on their mind, anything from how they feel about their role, processing feedback, addressing conflict, to professional development goals.
At team retreats we’ve assessed our progress and discussed how to improve the MC system. We’ve found that across the team there is an increased ability to broach difficult conversations. Oftentimes, we use the time to reflect on feedback we’ve received, prepare for difficult conversations with another teammate or external partner, or set professional development goals. We are still working out how to most effectively use this time to drive forward longer term goals for professional development.
We were recently interviewed to share what we find special about our workplace (listen to the podcast at The Business of Giving) and the MC system was brought up. The MC system is both a result of and a reinforcer of the PF culture. Listening to a colleagues’ struggles and thoughts fosters empathy. We now have time for people to meaningfully dive into feedback and create an action plan for how to move forward. It’s a time to reflect on our roles, what is exciting or difficult about our work, and what skills or areas we can develop.
We’d love to hear other ways teams incorporate reflection, professional development, or addressing conflict and how it reflects or affects your organizational culture. Feel free to leave a comment!