Peer Supervision
Peer supervision builds on the philosophy that one’s own personal experiences are a very rich
source of learning and that peers in a group can stimulate and help one another reflect on
experience and enhance one another’s learning. The peer-supervision instrument can be used
in a variety of contexts. It is a powerful tool to learn about cross-cultural communication and
management. It can be used as part of a wider training effort, or on a stand-alone basis.
Specific purposes include
learning by reflecting on day-to-day experience and
transfer of knowledge from a training program back to the workplace.
For the method to work, the participants should
have some experience in working or living in a cross-cultural or diverse environment;
be willing to reflect on their own assumptions and behavior;
establish a climate of openness and trust within the group;
be themselves culturally diverse as a group (this is desirable, but not absolutely
Groups can consist of three to six participants.
Variable, depending on the size of the group (see the Procedure below)
A chair for each person
Flipchart with two markers
A watch for keeping time
1. Brief the group on the nature of the activity. Advise them on how to work:
“The rules are simple, but you need discipline to stick to them. When you meet with your
group, it will be tempting to just talk about work on a social level and have a good time.
For a useful learning process to occur, you need to stick to a fairly structured procedure.
This will take you beyond the social level. Of course, you can still have a good time. Here
are the requirements:
At all times, maintain a climate of safety and trust.
Create and observe an agreement of total confidentiality within your group.
Follow the structured method that I will give to you.”
2. Appoint one person to guard the procedure and keep time (2 minutes). Time is very
important! Usually, going beyond the time limit for each step does not increase the quality
of the output in peer supervision.
3. Tuning-in (15 minutes)
Each group member thinks of a relevant work situation that he or she would like to clarify
or learn to handle better, and writes it down (3 minutes). The situation should meet these
Cross-cultural communication or negotiation is involved.
It happened recently or is currently happening.
You are involved.
It is real and concrete.
Each person briefly describes his or her situation (2 minutes per person). The timekeeper
summarizes the situation on a flipchart, together with the person’s initials or first name.
4. Choice of situation (3 minutes)
You may choose the case that is most urgent or that of the person who is most eager to start.
Choose when the peer supervision process starts. There are three roles:
Role 1—Time-keeper: Makes sure that the procedure is applied and that time-boundaries
are kept
Role 2—Case-owner: Learns new perspectives about his or her own work situation from
the peer group
Role 3—Group members: Facilitate the case-owner’s learning by helping him or her
explore alternative perspectives, not solve his or her problem
Listen, ask questions, build hypotheses.
Do not offer your own solutions until the last step of the peer supervision process.

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