Can Coaching be used to accelerate organisational change?

Many organisations are today experiencing two key challenges of ‘change fatigue’ and the need to deliver ‘more for less’. In this challenging business environment where every plan or initiative needs to be able to demonstrate its value, can coaching stand up as a quantifiable vehicle for accelerating organisational change?

This question formed the central theme of the recent Crelos Executive Coaching event held at the ICAEW in Moorgate, London. Hosted by Ali Gill, co-founder of Crelos and featuring the views and experiences of a select panel of expert executive coaches (including Diane King Head of Human Resources Kleinwort Benson, Karen Izod Co-Director of the Tavistock Institute’s Coaching for Leadership & Professional Development Programme, Associate of Crelos and co-editor of Mindful Consulting and Debbie Rynda renowned Executive Coach the event provoked lively debate and discussion.

A number of key areas for discussion were raised including the need for coaching to demonstrate Return on Investment (ROI), the newly developing Team Executive Coaching concept and Coaching as a vehicle for accelerating organisational change.

Coaching the ‘Return on Investment’ challenge

Coaching for individual executives has become a mainstream industry in the last 6 years. However, it is struggling to break free from its tag as a ‘nice to have’ rather than an essential tool to enhance personal effectiveness and business performance.

Many of the questions raised by the audience of C-level individuals centred on how to measure the value and Return on Investment (ROI) from coaching interventions. The prevailing view from the floor was that in their experience the ROI calculation is entirely absent and value is based on the subjective view of the coachee rather than hard business metrics.

The panel positioned the need to be ruthless in determining the business return of any investment in coaching at the start of the contracting process. A number of methods of measuring the impact of coaching were evidenced to demonstrate the business impact of coaching on individual performance. For example, the Schroder high performance leadership model, which enables effective consistent behavioural benchmarking, was linked to real life performance in role, and available business metrics were used to measure the impact of the individual actions on others through engagement metrics, and management information.

Another key insight related to the coach actively supporting the individual to maintain momentum in personal change through the identification and achievement of ‘quick wins’, through measurable behavioural enhancement and identified performance goals e.g. key programmes delivered against time cost and quality metrics.

Progression of coaching from Individual to Team coaching

The coaching event also marked the launch of the Crelos model of Team Executive Coaching as a response to increasing demand from executives to improve the productivity and effectiveness of teams. Central to the discussion was the general lack of clarity amongst both executive coaches and executives about what team coaching really is and how to use it to best effect. The point was made that executives often seek one off interventions, team builds or motivational off sites, when actually what is needed is a more long term relationship with a coach focussed on enhancing the way that the team works together.

The team coaching approach emphasises the need to place the Executive Team as individuals in their business context, their ways of working and focusing on their purpose and identity i.e. what are they here to achieve, what are the principles and formal/ informal rules and relationships that govern individual contribution to the team, and how does this team ultimately influence the performance culture of the organisation.

The model, supported by the direct experiences of the panel, places the coach in a supporting role developing trusting relationships at an individual and team level in order to surface issues and support the team to develop deeper insights into their personal and group capability. Key focus areas can be linked to helping the team manage anxiety, tensions and action responses in order to drive effective decision making and progression toward clearly defined goals.

The team coaching approach is particularly effective when teams are required to lead substantial organisational transition. For example, the coaches described working with teams through business transitions such as Management Buy-Outs, handling the complexity of FSA Arrow Reports or major organisational re-structures. Working as a coach with team over a period of time requires the coach to maintain good relationships with each team member. As Ali Gill articulated:

‘Coaching is a relationship based approach to development. Change happens through the relationship’

Coaching as a vehicle for accelerating organisation change

‘A coach must translate a richer understanding into a plan of action that is likely to afford tangible benefit’
Professor David A. Lane, Director of the Professional Development Foundation

A highly effective team environment at the pinnacle of an organisation directly influences the productivity, engagement and personal experience of working within an organisation. The top team drive the organisational culture. Coaching can effectively help shape this culture through helping individuals actively choose what behaviours, motivations and attitudes will drive culture i.e. ‘how we do things’ through exploring what does good look like ‘around here’ and helping to articulate this to the business in a concrete way through observable behaviour, actions and measurable outcomes.

If you would like to learn more about the Crelos approach to coaching at an individual and team level or as a vehicle for organisational change please contact Ali Gill on 07770 668776, or via email at Ali.Gill@crelos.com

Daniel Edwards Senior Consultant