Could Coaching Help Your Organisation?

12th July 2019

The development of a coaching culture is important for Local Authorities dealing with the challenges of delivering public services in 2019.  The East of England Local Government Association seeks to enable Local Authorities to be the best they can be for their communities, and so over the past four years it has developed a programme of coach development in service of coaching culture.  During those four years, more than sixty people have become ILM level 7 accredited coaches through programmes offered by EELGA and its partner provider The Training Spa.

More people are needed to join the coaching community and help bring a coaching culture to the East of England.  Could you be a future Coach?  Kate Coplestone showcases three current coaches and asks them about their experiences of being a coach, the impact they are having in their organisations, and their message to people wondering whether they could be an accredited coach in the future:

Jaine Cresser is the Assistant Director for Housing & Investment at Stevenage Borough Council, and she qualified as an ILM level 7 coach earlier this year.  A senior leader with around 180 people in her team, Jaine found it challenging to fit in the twenty hours coaching practice on top of the classroom and assignment commitments.  As she said, ‘I am keen to develop a coaching culture within my team and more widely across the council.  I am preparing to develop a pool of coaches and to debunk the myth that you only have coaching because you are failing in some regard’.  Derryth Wright, Health, Safety & Wellbeing Manager at Norfolk County Council, is part-way through her ILM level 7 accreditation programme.  She said ‘I attended a two-day training session on coaching a few years ago and could see the potential straight away.  I really wanted to build on the informal skills I had been practising as a manager and the formal skills I had learned in mediation training’.  Having completed the one day per month classroom commitment over seven months, Derryth now spends one day per month completing her assignments and coaching practice.

Our coaches are leading the way on changing the perception of coaching in their organisations.  Maxine O’Mahoney, Executive Director of Strategy and Governance at Breckland and South Holland District Council, has been a qualified ILM level 7 coach for two years.  She explains: “Coaching is seen as a new initiative at the moment and probably a little frightening for some, especially for those who are used to managing in a more ‘command and control’ manner.  I see coaching as supporting a new way of working.  We have a much more agile workforce and technology is helping to drive this even further, so I would like to see coaching as being something we all just do as part of our ways of working.”  Derryth agrees: “it has real potential in my organisation – to enhance the power of people!”

But what do you actually talk about in coaching?! 

Of course, the coaching conversation is confidential and it’s the coachee who chooses what to share about the conversations they have with their coach.  Having said that, our coaches have shared some themes they see regularly.  The most common are dealing with change, managing complex issues, making working relationships work, confidence, and navigating a political environment.  The coach helps the coachee think through what’s happening now, what their options are, what’s getting in their way, or deciding what next step to take. The coach listens and asks questions that are designed to help the coachee think for themselves.   

And how do you know if you’re making any difference?

Maxine has found that she can see the difference she’s making: “I know I am having an impact as I can see the outputs from the session and people changing as a result.” As well as seeing people change what they do and how they do it, coaches also elicit feedback from their coachees. Jaine’s coachees have told her that as a result of her coaching they: think through options more carefully, look at tasks from a more strategic perspective, work more easily with colleagues who have a different working approach, and have changed from seeing coaching as a negative to seeing it as a positive thing to help realise potential. Derryth has found that coaching those you don’t work with gives the coachee a new freedom to find the answer within themselves as the coach does not have a vested interest in the solution. So – sometimes you see the difference, sometimes you hear about it, and sometimes you just know you’re providing the kind of enabling, empowering conversation the coachee isn’t getting from anywhere else.

What’s the future for coaching in your organisation?

All our coaches want to move their organisations towards more and better-quality coaching-style conversations, not just with accredited coaches but as part of everyday conversations at work. Maxine explains: “I believe that if you invest time, energy and coaching practice into your team you will get great results. I’m looking to unlock more potential.  We are already seeing a reduction in leavers as we increasingly work in a much more coaching way.”

What’s your message to people wondering if they should become a coach?

Jaine says: “Give it a go – who knows what potential is inside you? It’s a very rewarding experience; watching someone grow in confidence and start to fly is amazing.” Derryth adds: “If you are a curious and inquisitive person who believes in people then becoming a coach would definitely be a good move, but I think learning the skills of coaching whether you intend becoming a formal coach or not can be beneficial to almost anyone. The skills help you step back from the situation, consider other perspectives and be curious about those.”

In conclusion Maxine agrees: “If you have not had any experience of being coached, you don’t know what you could be missing out on. If you feel stuck in a rut, not sure what to do next in your role, or are not sure you are fulfilled in your role, then some coaching could help you unblock your mind and your thinking.  If you are interested in enabling people to grow and get satisfaction in supporting people to reach their full potential then give it a go and become an East of England coach!”

Both the ILM7 and ILM5 courses are available to run in-house so check the East of England LGA Market Place for those and other coaching options. 

There is one more regional ILM7 course and one ILM5 course scheduled to run from October 2019 before the transition to offering them as in-house courses only takes effect. 

For further information on the ILM qualifications see the ILM website.

Kate Coplestone is an independent coach and OD Consultant:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kate-coplestone-5683ab2a/  

For further information contact lucy.ashwell@eelga.gov.uk

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