I’d like to introduce you to Dr Catherine Richards who is the principal of a local college, this is a little bit about her experience of bringing me into her organisation:
As well as being a powerful tool for individual clients, coaching is a great way to support staff in the workplace. Businesses and organisations often go through periods of transition so it’s a good idea to check in with individual team members. Coaching is a great way to develop key skills and foster resilience so everyone can be their best possible selves and do their job effectively.
Catherine is Principal of a medium sized sixth form college and coaching was recommended to her by someone who’d found it useful. Having some experience of mentoring and counselling, Catherine was keen to find a powerful way of supporting her staff with long lasting effects.
‘At the time the college had just been through a period of transition. I felt we needed an injection of energy.’
After getting a recommendation, Catherine became interested in my services.
‘When I met Emma, I could see she’s got a person-centred approach. I had an open mind and didn’t have a specific target I wanted to achieve. Although our results were continuing to go up each year, it was a case of, can we do even better? What can we do to look at things with a fresh approach?
Initially the primary focus was not about the college but about the individuals and the journeys we’d been on.’
Catherine decided to try a course of coaching with me along with two colleagues so they could assess its usefulness on a wider scale.
‘I didn’t want us to introduce something without being confident in what was involved. I also wanted a better understanding of what coaching means so I could talk to my staff about it. It’s important I’m confident something is worth doing before involving everyone.’
Coaching sessions for businesses and organisations can be face to face and are flexible to fit in around the working day. Sessions are confidential with a safe space created to share thoughts, feelings and concerns.
‘It can be quite tough to fit sessions in during the day but the time I spent with Emma gave me more energy to do my work so although I’d used my time, there were positive benefits. Yes, you give up your time but that investment in you as a human being is important.’
Coaching offers a holistic approach where we look at any area of life coming up because they’re all linked. Any challenges we have in our personal lives will affect our work and vice versa so it’s important to address everything that’s going on. Different types of questioning and activities are used to get clarity on what comes up.
‘Some sessions go into what’s directly attributable to work, some are about relationships and others are about personal life. It’s often about developing overall resilience and confidence in the person rather than a specific aim. My whole ethos was if we invest in the person they will naturally do better in their role because they’ll feel more confident in themselves’
Keeping sessions light and uplifting is important to keep clients relaxed and help them enjoy the sessions.
‘Emma’s approach is challenging though she uses humour to make it feel like a positive experience which I like. It’s light and most sessions have a humorous element to them. The humour and positivity has been one of the best aspects of working with Emma.’
The aim of coaching sessions is not to offer solutions or problem solve, but support staff in looking at things from a different angle.
‘Coaching does not try and fix things it just helps you accept that some things aren’t changeable but your attitude towards them can change.’
The impact of coaching for organisations and businesses
Management teams are often surprised by the impact individual coaching has on the performance of the whole staff in businesses and organisations. Not everyone finds it easy to reflect so coaching gives staff the space to gain clarity on what’s going on, what can be improved and what positive changes can be made.
‘I’m a very here and now person so I’ve really enjoyed thinking about what we’ve discussed and reflecting on it. I’m not a reflective person, but with Emma I have to be and I make myself do it.
Whatever’s happening in the work place, it’s just having that space to think about things. What Emma is good at is helping me realise the aspect I want to change is not necessarily at the root of the problem.’
Coaching is a great way for decision-makers in businesses and organisations to experience a level of challenge and self-reflection they don’t normally have due to their position.
‘Emma uses a lot of challenge to make me think about what I need to address rather than what I want to address which has been good for me. Being a senior manager, you find yourself ultimately being everyone’s boss. It’s sometimes not good because you need people to disagree with you and challenge you. Emma doesn’t come with an agenda so she can say whatever she likes. I like that.’
Emma seems more robust in terms of challenging me. I can manage other people quite well, and you learn techniques where you can effectively not answer questions, whereas she is quite good at identifying the questions I don’t want to answer. Emma will ask what’s going on around a question. She really tunes into the person.’
It’s important for businesses and corporations to constantly be moving forwards. Coaching is a great way to bring to the surface some of the changes on an individual or structural level that can lead to benefits for the whole organisation.
‘Emma said: ‘You’re not spending enough time looking after you.’ As a result, I thought I’m going to give myself some time out. By doing that you work better anyway.
For ages, I’d resisted having a deputy but during the process of the coaching I thought, I can’t afford not to because the impact of not having someone to help me is bigger than I thought. Coaching helped me look at everything from a different perspective.’
Coaching for businesses and organisations is not just about making positive changes but also helping staff to feel good about the positive impact they’re already making. Positive team members will get better results.
‘We live in a society where there’s a dichotomy between I’m really happy and I’ve got to improve myself. It’s good getting some feedback on what’s positive about where you are now and to look at how far you’ve come. In teaching, everything is about getting better, you never look back and think, do you know what its good where I am. Now I tend to reflect on what is good rather than looking for flaws.’
Relating to ourselves is important at work but also relating to others. Coaching people in the workplace improves teamwork and strong teams will achieve better results.
‘It’s helped working on different relationships between different people through self-reflection and reflecting on how teams work.
We’re going to give sessions to the next tier of management. They’ll be having taster sessions to see how it works for them. It’ll be interesting to see how these managers benefit.’
Advice for anyone considering coaching
‘Go into it with an open mind, expect to be challenged. Emma will say things you maybe won’t like. Just see what comes up, because it’ll be really useful. The main thing is keeping an open mind because it’s not what you expect. Every single session with every person is different.