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Making Coaching Stick

As business leaders, Learning and Development professionals, coach trainers and educators, what can we do to help make coaching training really stick?

The case for sticky coaching

Many businesses expect to increase their spending on coaching in the coming years, both on external coaches and on developing their own internal coaches. It’s no surprise then to find that conversations are increasingly turning to how we can make sure that coach training, whether as a formal, ‘pre-contracted’ activity or as a more ad hoc approach to unlocking potential and improving performance, ‘sticks’. At NG Bailey we’re no different. Over recent years we’ve taken four steps that are starting to make a real difference in our quest for sticky coaching; I’d like to share them with you.

NG Bailey’s sticky coaching journey

In the last two years we have trained more than 100 of our people in basic coaching skills. It’s fair to say that there have been varying degrees of ‘stickiness’; some have really taken hold of it and transformed their way of engaging the people around them – and not just inside work. Others haven’t made quite the same shift.

There will always be people who readily make the most of the skills and knowledge they pick up on these programmes, and people who don’t. But in my view, the onus is on the Learning and Development function to find ways to make it easier for everyone to embed their skills – to create sticky coaching. Here are four things we’re doing in NG Bailey to help our developing coaches do just that:

1. Offering professional coaching accreditation

As well as being an attractive proposition for people who like to pick up certificates and qualifications, the process that the major professional coaching bodies (EMCC, ICF, AC, APECS) ask coaches to go through to gain accreditation is incredibly developmental. Typically, a coach will need to demonstrate that they have completed a course, and that in addition they have, as a minimum:

  1. Gone on to put their skills into practice
  2. Consciously focused on developing a range of competencies and, crucially;
  3. Spent time thinking about how all of this is working and how they are developing as a coach
  4. Received an appropriate amount of coach supervision

At NG Bailey our EMCC Foundation Level accredited programme does all these things. The accreditation process encourages people to practice their new skills straight away and to focus on developing them over a period of time; to embed and professionalise their coaching practice from the outset.

2. ‘Keep coaching’ calls

Any business developing its own coaches needs to make sure that coach supervision is available. In fact, if coaches are delivering formal sessions it should be a mandated requirement. We offer face-to-face and virtual coach supervision, for individuals and groups, as required. One thing that has proved a big hit is our regular ‘Keep Coaching’ supervision call, which takes place every six weeks via Microsoft Teams (more on that shortly…). These confidential calls are an opportunity for coaches to come together and discuss issues that are cropping up in their coaching with each other and with an experienced coach supervisor. Each time we have new faces and some usual suspects – whether participants bring an issue of their own to explore, contribute to the discussion or just listen in, these accessible calls help them maintain their momentum or kick-start their coaching.

3. Promoting co-coaching groups

Across our UK locations we’re starting to see some small ‘co-coaching groups’ spring up. These groups (typically four or five coaches) get together every couple of months for around two hours. They are a safe and supportive space to do three important things:

  1. Practice their coaching skills
  2. Work on live issues
  3. Receive honest feedback from their peers about their coaching skills

These groups take the same format as the coach practice sessions that are a core part of the accredited course. Each participant takes turns to coach, to be coached (on a real, live issue), and to observe and provide feedback. It’s a great way to build skills and confidence.

4. Using technology to connect and share resources

One of our more recent developments, but one with a huge amount of potential, is creating a digital forum for the coaching population. Microsoft Teams is a simple and user-friendly place where coaches can connect, ask questions (of each other or of L&D) and share ideas and resources or find a local ‘coaching buddy’. Guidelines and policies can be kept in there and our subject matter experts can keep coaches engaged by feeding them new content such as articles, research, videos, podcasts and details of events, to keep them stocked up on fresh thinking. We haven’t even begun to tap into the power of this tool yet, but it’s got vast potential.

We’re by no means at our destination in our quest for ‘sticky coaching’, but this blend has certainly helped us make some huge strides forward. I hope there’s something you can take that will help you make your coaching sticker too. Before your browsing takes you somewhere else perhaps pause for a moment: What can you take from this that you can put to use and, perhaps selfishly on my part, what are you already doing that we at NG Bailey can borrow? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!

Further reading:

EMCC – the European Mentoring and Coaching Council

Ridler and Co. – the Ridler Report

The Trevor Sherman Partnership Coaches Toolkit

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By John Crossan

John Crossan is a learning and development professional working for NG Bailey, the UK's largest independent engineering services business. Born and raised in Yorkshire, with a young (and growing) family, helping people, teams and businesses grow and be their best is what John loves.

One reply on “Making Coaching Stick”

John Crossan. Congratulations on your first articles on this Blog. My learning from your article? I should have embedded more coaching supervision mechanisms in the work I have been doing recently. I knew I had written about coaching supervision in the past. A search on this Blog revealed it was in September 2016 when I published ‘Coaching the Coach – Who, Why, When & What?’. Take a look here: https://www.tsp-uk.co.uk/leadership-coaching/coaching-the-coach-draft/. I would welcome comments and feedback on the Four R’s model for ongoing coach-the-coach support.

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