Developing and Deploying Internal Coaches

One of the afternoon sessions was about Developing and Deploying Internal Coaches. Research has shown that coaching in organisations is the second best form of learning (the first being on the job learning). The opportunity for staff development is only limited by the resources the business chooses to invest in a programme like this.

The key to making a programme like this work, is by having a group of coaches who are part of the business and not just from the HR/L&D functions. Simon Dennis from Fujitsu UK & Ireland, helped to reinforce this. He has a full time role in the business, and is a Coaching Ambassador for the UK. This means he does coaching and leads the coaching programme as well as doing his full time role. Fujitsu UK & Ireland are a company of 11000, and they have 45 internal coaches.

Once the idea of having internal coaches was sold, they developed an internal community of people and then developed their own internal model called the Fujitsu Coaching Continuum. Using the company logo (the infinity symbol), they created a process for how to give support and development of coaching. I like this reinforcement of the brand logo matched with creating an internal model. When companies do this well it only creates greater sense of citizenship and connection to the company. The other thing I like about their approach is how they give full training to their coaches and have an internal community of practise who come together and constantly look at what they are doing, how they are doing it, and what they can change/improve to make the coaching experience better for them, and the people begin coached. Usefully, they developed a word language template which helps give ideas on how to explain what language to use when in different parts of the coaching conversation.

Coral Ingleton from Kent County Council talked about how she worked with a partner to create a coaching network internally in the council. They created a network across organisations where reciprocal coaching takes place. Unfortunately she ended up talking more about benefits of coaching as opposed to how it is embedded and deployed. I like the idea that this is reciprocal coaching and not paid. Staff who want to be part of the programme, go through formal qualification process and become part of the network. This network is then available to individuals outside the organisation they work for, so they can be called on to be a coach for anyone requesting it from the network (and by default the organisation you are part of too).


The day I climbed a mountain

Today was an important day for me. For some weeks I’ve been planning a set of actions that will help me to achieve more with my role. I have nothing but love for the work I do and the people I work with. I say this with no hint of cynicism or exaggeration. Nor am I being coerced into saying it.

A few weeks back I wrote a post about how I gained some clarity on how I need to act in order to move forward. Since then I’ve been free in my thinking of what I need to do and how I can achieve it. I’ve also allowed myself to be comfortable with not doing certain actions. Today I ate my frog and moved passed the last piece of what I perceived to be a personal barrier. That’s now gone.

Right now, I have that clarity again on what I need to do. There’s goals and achievements I want to work towards and am again free to go about doing so. A number of things needed to be in place for this to work, and ultimately I’m the only one to be in control of what that entailed.

I’m smiling right now. Because tomorrow is a journey I’m about to craft to the shape of my mountain. What lies ahead I welcome. I have success in my sights.

What coaching did for me

When you consider L&D in the workplace, it covers a broad remit of skills and behaviour that people want to learn, develop and do more with. There’s never a one size fits all that works for everyone in the business. There’s just too many variables to try and account for. It’s awful to call people variables, but it is true. A person’s mood, their personality, how they learn, how much time they have, if the training is relevant, opportunity to practise, company culture, all of this and more impacts the way a person learns, and what they want from learning.

And on top of that day to day tasks, objectives, projects, meetings, last minute work, and we face the age old problem of not having enough time to invest in L&D. So let’s assume all of these things are working together. Let’s assume you have the opportunities, and the resources to take part in learning and development. It’s a combination of events that enhance a person’s learning. Reading, discussing, analysing, criticism, feedback, coaching, writing. This all helps to keep the mind ticking over about your own development.

And it’s the coaching piece I’d like to focus on. In recent months I’ve had the benefit of working with David Goddin and Christine Livingstone in a professional capacity. I know these guys through Twitter, and have built a relationship with them over time. With both, in different capacities, I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with them and reflect on the issues I had. So what is it they helped me to do?

Well, to ask myself the questions I hadn’t given myself the opportunity to ask myself. They listened to what I was facing, and asked guiding questions that helped me think about what I was doing and what I was thinking. They offered feedback on what I was saying, on their perceptions of what I was describing and kept getting me to think about what this means for now and for the future.

And what was the outcome of these talks? Clarity of thought. For that’s what I believe Coaching helps you to arrive at. Whatever that clarity of thought looks like, that’s what it provides. For me, that clarity of thought was on knowing what my next steps need to be. And that’s powerful stuff. It’s not as simple as – go talk to Bob. It’s about your whole attitude, beliefs, desires, motivations and purpose for being. That’s what drives the action. You make a decision about what you want to achieve and how you want to do it. And it’s no understatement to say it’s powerful.

After the conversations and since I have been motivated to do more. Although they may have focused on one particular problem or issue I was facing, the learning I took from them was further reaching. I could see that my decisions I wanted to take to tackle those problems, could easily work for other areas of my life that I wanted to see something change. And that wasn’t after some time had passed. That was while I was thinking about and discussing the problem at hand with my coach.

I’ve always advocated coaching as a key management technique and firmly believe this is the best way for people to progress and develop at work. As a personal development tool it is equally valuable. The trick is always to find a coach that is compatible with your style and you can build a rapport with in order for it to be effective.

David’s company is Change Continuum. Christine’s company is A Different Kind of Work.

>I’d like coaching please

>I want to provide a look at how you should be planning your management training for your organisation. There’s a lot of iffing and aahing about what constitutes good management in today’s world. There is structure you can and should have in place and all it takes is a bit of planning.

The first thing I have to talk about is whether or not you go external or internal. That’s to say should you bring in an external trainer or have someone internal deliver the training? The answer to this lies in where your budget lies and how you choose to spend it. There are some very good external trainers who will do a stellar job of training in this field. Just please, whatever you do, get some ‘free’ or ‘taster’ training first as you don’t want to pay £oooo’s for someone only to realise the training has been dead pan. To further this, if you have used a particular external trainer you’re happy to recommend to others please let us know in the comment section below.

Also, I’m not getting into defining leadership over management. In truth, the two terms are so interchangeable that it only really makes a difference to those concerned with titles.

Ok so there are 5 categories of management training you need to give thought to.

1) Management Essentials. This is about giving the managers who are in their role anew or within a 18-24 month old a core look at the things they need to know. Policies, procedures, core management skills such as objective setting, feedback skills, performance management, basic coaching skills, some models on motivation, delegation and flexible management styles. These are the core things that any new manager just has to know. Without this they’ll forever be lost in the sea of management and never know if they’re on the right path.

2) Effective Management. This should be for managers who are experienced in their role, have had teams to look after and need to know what more is expected of them. At this level they should be exposed to a psychometric tool of some sort to raise their own self awareness and give them insight into how other personalities are likely to either support or clash with one another, including their own. There should be some further development of actual management models such as Situational Leadership or a Coaching model such as GROW, better description of techniques surrounding motivation either delving into studies from Gallup or Roffey Park, and some form of business insight or business acumen development from leaders in the business.

3) Emotional Intelligence. This should be for managers who are growing in their role to a senior role and need to be able to understand how to work with a wider group of people and increase their influence across the business. Emotional Intelligence is a much disputed area of management devleopment in recent years. To be honest since competency frameworks were introduced, EI is the last big model introduced in the last 20 years. The dispute arises from the fact it’s mainly credited to Daniel Goleman. If you can get over that, there are many good EI models developed by practitioners who are credible and very reputable. Namely Dr Reuven Baron or work doen by Consulting Tools. This should also include a proper 360 survey tool to truly unravel an indicidual and allow for genuine personal development.

4) Global Management Effectiveness. In an increasingly global world, this level of manager needs to be aware of cultural differences, how to get the best out of teams in other countries, how to deliver on projects that involve global clients, effective multi-national communication. This is a truly difficult topic to handle and needs someone with experience in this field to deliver this.

5) Leadership Excellence. This is for those at senior levels within a business who are looking to find out what it is they’re missing. Training at this level is often about how to inspire teams, deliver a strategic vision, deliver powerful messages, operating at a level where you’re thinking about the future and long term development of the business.

So where does Coaching fit into all of this? Honestly? At every single point. But that’s a whole other blog post. In essence coaching should only be utilised if you are certain of the goals and purpose. If you think you need it because you’ve been hearing lots of great things about the great work Bob has been doing with other people similar in a role to you then you’ve got the wrong idea about where your personal development needs to be.

And you can take the categories I’ve named above and give them any other title you want to change them for. This is intended to provide a framework for overall management development. There are other considerations I’ve not given them time of day to such as succession planning or talent management. To be honest though you can take those concepts and adapt the above to fit those.

>Having the right conversation


In recent weeks I’ve been training and advising about using coaching as a format to develop staff for first time line managers. I mean line managers should be doing this anyway and that’s why it’s important to stress that coaching is a key technique in their bag of tricks that they should be able to do – Well.

But why is this the case? Why do managers need to bother doing this kind of activity to develop their staff? Why not leave it to the L&Der in the business/organisation to take care of it through training or other initiatives? Because the line manager is nearly always the first port of call for any questions or issues a direct report has. As such, the responsibility of being a line manager means there’s many things to take into account and be mindful of. The best phrase for being a line manager I have heard is they carry the responsibility of pastoral care for their direct reports. I think that captures the whole thing of being a line manager really nicely.

I’ve mentioned this in previous posts that giving feedback is a key part of being a line manager. I’ve not yet written about why coaching is equally important. So here it is. In a recent CIPD learning and talent development survey, coaching still comes out as the top activity line managers can and should do to develop, motivate and engage their staff. All credit to the survey for highlighting this. Often, it’s seen as the responsibility of someone else in the organisation to make this happen – typically the L&Der. But the L&Der’s roles is to to just facilitate and enable the L&D to happen, either through interventions they have prescribed as approrpiate, or by involving leaders across the business to deliver tailored interventions.

Let’s first just be clear about what coaching is and what it can help with. Coaching is a methodology to help a member of staff arrive at their own conclusions. I hate sentences like that. They seem like they’re fluffy when they’re not. Let’s break it down using a model – GROW.
Goal – the first place to start in a coaching conversation is to understand what the coachee wants to get from a coaching conversation/session/relationship. This should be a searching conversation where the coach spends time asking questions about motivations, aims, and understanding what to focus on.
Reality – this is by no means the next step in the process, but it does help to understand other factors to bear in mind. Has the coachee considered the various implications of what they want to achieve? Do they have a plan for achieving their goal? Are they being realistic about achieving their goal and about learning how to achieve their goal?
Options – again, not linear but to be considered. In achieving the goal, what are the various options available to the coachee? Have they looked into various options or are they focusing on once path only? Why have they either chosen path (a) or not considered options (b) (c) and (d)? Do they know what is required of them to achieve their goal? Will they need to engage in other activities in order to achieve their goal?
Will – not necessarily last. What is their actual motivation for doing this activity? Have they thought things through with enough consideration that they can make a decision about what they want to do next? What support do they need? Who will be their ‘go to’ people to help maintain their motivation? Have they considered implications – financially, family, friends, work?
Those are brief paragraphs to provide an overview of how to have the right conversation. When line managers get this right, staff feel valued because they’re being given a chance to talk, be heard, and be supported. They’ll increase their discretionary effort they choose to exercise because they attach value to the organisation courtesy of the efforts of the manager. They’ll talk openly and positively about their organisation in differing ways to people they have regular contact with and contacts they make in their network. They’ll feel like they’re being developed by virtue of the time and effort you are giving them for their personal and professional development.