Fixation on Histology

The Surprising Benefits of Peer-to-Peer Coaching in the Lab

Dave Krull, Associate Director at GSK, didn’t necessarily appreciate the importance of coaching in the workplace. However, after 20 years at the company, it became clear that many of his colleagues hadn’t been working there nearly as long as he has—and realizing that changed his viewpoint.
“I'm finding that we're having a greater number of new employees coming into my company out of 20 or so folks I work directly with,” he explained. “I think I'm one of the few that have been there for greater than five years, so it's given me a fresh perspective.”
Krull shares that fresh perspective in the NSH webinar, Investing in Yourself and Others through Mentoring and Coaching, which includes his thoughts on the benefits of peer-to-peer coaching in the lab.

How Coaches Benefit by Helping Peers

It’s clear that someone who receives coaching benefits from the time and effort dedicated to them as they learn and grow in the workplace. But have you ever considered how the coach benefits from this relationship? Krull says there are several advantages to coaching someone in the lab, and the following are among them.
Becoming a better communicator. One of the ways that Krull says he’s benefitted from coaching his colleagues is that it’s helped him enhance his communication skills, so he’s better able to explain lab procedures to other people.
“It’s one thing to do it yourself, but it's another thing entirely when you have to teach somebody else to do it. When you have to communicate how to do something in words, it can be a little bit more challenging,” Krull said. “Sometimes I think so intuitively and I'm just so used to doing things, it becomes a habit and I forget to verbally say those things. I have to be careful and make sure I’m covering things thoroughly.” 
But communication does not end there. While many people may only focus on speaking when they think about communication skills, Krull says that coaching has also helped him focus on the other side of the communication equation: listening. This has allowed him to better understand the colleagues he’s coaching, while demonstrating that he cares about them.
“I always want to give an answer when I’m in a discussion. Someone is telling me a problem and I'm always ready with the answer, so 30 seconds in, I already know what to tell them,” said Krull. “But instead of jumping in, I've learned to be patient and just wait for them to finish talking before I try to intervene and tell them the answer. They want to share and I'm stopping them from sharing. I realized I have to let people complete their conversation.” 
Becoming interruptible. No one really wants to be interrupted while they’re working. However, Krull says that to be an effective coach in the lab, learning to be interruptible is exactly what you need to do.
“If I was working on something intense, I became really focused and just wanted to work on that thing,” he reflected. “But I've learned that when I tell someone not to bother me, I’m also telling them that I don't care for them at that moment, and that the issue they have is less important than what I'm doing. It devalues the person.”
Becoming part of the solution. Krull says being a coach doesn’t end with him or the coworkers he’s helping—the entire organization benefits from the work he’s doing. For one, he’s contributing to the development of future leaders by transferring the skills he’s gained over the years to others. Additionally, sometimes he’s able to help people in ways their direct supervisors can’t because they feel more comfortable confiding in him about certain workplace challenges, they face.
“It's important to have those conversations and let people know that they're not alone. It's also an opportunity to just discuss challenges in the workplace,” Krull said. “This isn't a gossip session; it's more about understanding what the pressures are and how we could potentially change those things. It's a time for learning additional skills and getting additional training to diversify or expand skills.” 
Dave Krull's journey at GSK has highlighted the transformative power of coaching in the workplace, both for the mentee and the mentor. Through his experiences, Krull has demonstrated that coaching goes beyond merely teaching skills; it enhances communication, fosters a supportive work environment, and ultimately contributes to the growth of the entire organization. To learn more about Dave Krull’s experience, check out the NSH webinar, Investing in Yourself and Others through Mentoring and Coaching.