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Coaching Nirvana

I sense that there has often been an almost singular imagining of what coaching should be in organisations. It’s held up as though it’s a physical place that we can all journey to. An end state. When we arrive at that place we will each find the same thing. It will be wonderful.

In that sense it’s neither the reality of the world nor the desire any of us should hold. We aren’t looking for the exact same end state. We aren’t looking for the same journey. We are all different and our organisations’ needs, challenges and cultures are all different.

However, what we hopefully can have in common is a desire and focus on using coaching to facilitate the performance, learning and development of ourselves and others.

Embedding Coaching Skills into Daily Conversations to Foster your Talent

This morning’s first session saw Claire Molin (Visa Europe) and Jane Saunders (BBC) share their quite different journeys to embedding coaching in their organisations. Claire & Jane clearly share the same philosophy to coaching which perhaps was best summed up by their quote from Myles Downey…

“The art and science of facilitating the performance, learning and development of another”

In both approaches there was a strong sense of moving well beyond coaching by rote and “coaching conversations”. Their organisations they were looking to embed coaching behaviours and coaching styles into the way of working. The cultural dimensions to achieving this requires some careful thought, a sense of which was usefully shared in these questions :

  • What kind of organisational culture do you have?
  • How do you currently develop people in your organisation?
  • What are the behaviours that you are trying to change?
  • What’s your organisations previous experience of coaching?
  • How will you introduce coaching?
  • Who owns coaching in your organisation?
  • Who are your role models, advocates & detractors? What can you do to engage with each?
  • What is your current management capability?
  • What are you stretching in your managers?
  • How will you support your managers?
  • How do you launch?
  • What are the potential benefits? Who do you need to “sell” these to?
  • How will you measure impact?

Even just the posing of these questions confirms my own views that the embedding of coaching into organisations is really a strategic decision that requires leadership as well as sound consulting skills. Organisations need to think carefully about who is best placed for the task of not only building the business case but also the implementation and oversight.

In terms of training and development, the BBC had pursued a classroom training approach focussing on “Coaching Skills for Managers” whereas Visa Europe had utilised bite-sized activities to build capabilities. Visa Europe use an external organisation to deliver coach skills training whereas the BBC find it more cost effective to do it in-house.  To my earlier point, two quite different ways of approaching skills development but very much anchored in what suited the culture, needs and strategy of each organisation. To their credit, in both cases there was a real focus on quality and professionalism in the training being provided.

Clearly for each organisation their approaches were yielding benefits and it was interesting to hear the broader (perhaps unexpected) benefits of embedding coaching skills. Generically as you may expect this included reduced costs, providing timely support, building engagement & building better contextual understanding.  However, five other skills areas had been identified where coaching skills are transferable and have an impact:

  • Mentoring
  • Negotiation
  • Relationship/Stakeholder Management
  • Dealing with change
  • Seeing alternative perspectives

Given the broader potential of coaching skills, it has made me wonder about the coordination of internal/external coach networks and the coordination of coaching skills development in leader-managers. There could be huge organisational benefit for oversight of these to be very closely aligned both operationally and strategically…

Embedding coaching into your organisation isn’t a training initiative it’s a strategic action. It needs careful thought and execution to suit your organisation and its needs. It will take time. However, I can’t quite imagine why you wouldn’t want to embed coaching skills into your organisations daily conversations.



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