South Gloucestershire Council actively took steps to achieve its aim of creating a coaching culture within the organisation. The background lay in the HR Strategy which set out the main outcomes to be achieved in priority areas. One such area was “Developing Leadership Capacity” which meant equipping its leaders and senior managers with the skills required to coach the performance and development of others. This was necessary for achieving the corporate objective of improving the delivery of customer-focused public services.
With a clear brief, the Council put the work out to tender, which was won by Baxter Associates Ltd. of Warminster, Wiltshire.
The overall purpose of the Programme was:
- To equip managers with the knowledge, skills, attitude and confidence to coach others effectively and encourage the use of coaching as a key management tool throughout the Service Areas
- To enable participants to apply their coaching skills and be able to give examples of results achieved within a three-month period through coaching their direct reports and others
- To provide individual support through one-to-one coaching to reinforce managers’ learning and support their personal development
Working in collaboration with the Council’s Employee Development Unit, Baxter Associates designed and delivered the following:
- One-day “Coaching for Corporate Advantage” Workshop for Chief Officers
- Up to six individual coaching sessions provided by Baxter Associates’ professional coaches for Chief Officers on an opt-in basis
- Two-day “Coaching for Results” Workshop for management tiers 2-4 across the Council
- Additional one-to-one coaching from Baxter Associates’ coaches for selected Departmental Management Team members
- Half-day “Coaching Refresher” Workshops using professional actors as coachees
The Programme is being evaluated in five ways:
- Immediate completion of a Workshop Feedback Form by each participant
- A three-month review of each participant’s activity and achievements.
- Use of a 360 degree Questionnaire at the start of the one-to-one coaching and again at the end to establish changes.
- Using the staff survey to help establish a benchmark which then assists in measuring changes over the longer term when the survey is repeated.
- A one-off survey conducted by the Employee Development Unit in 2006.
Approximately 150 managers have been thoroughly trained in coaching skills. They have had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with renowned coaching models, practise them in relevant work-related situations, and comprehend the underpinning theory behind their actions. They have all planned how to apply these coaching strategies in the workplace to build higher performing teams and empowered, responsible individuals.
84% of participants rated the training “Excellent” (the top score). The Workshop Delivery was rated “Excellent” or “Good” by 99% of Participants and Trainer’s Knowledge was rated “Excellent” or “Good” by 100%. 88% have used coaching skills since the Workshop. The learning has been particularly useful in enabling individuals and teams to take responsibility for their work and become more involved in decision-making.
- Top level management buy-in to the concept is vital as their participation in the training and individual coaching sessions sets the scene for the roll-out of the Programme
- Managers expect their line managers to demonstrate the skills acquired and role-model coaching behaviour
- People at all levels need to experience being coached to truly believe that a coaching culture exists
- Managers need to appreciate the longer-term benefits of investing time in coaching in the short-term
- To embed a coaching culture, managers’ application of the skills need to be measured through Performance Management and Competence Framework criteria