Focussing on People rather than Performance will get you to Excellence
By Lucinda Shaw, Action Planning Associate
‘…it has opened the team up to new ways of thinking and working and also they have a better understanding of how their own views might be hindering their progress in a certain situation.’
‘I think about how to answer challenges and concerns in a more constructive way and suggest a solution.’
‘After every coaching session I have walked out feeling really great and positive about how I can use my learning to be better in my role and help achieve target.’
In all walks of life, the top achievers understand that they and their teams go further and faster when they work with an experienced coach, who can give them the space and time to figure out what they need to do, while listening to and challenging them. Organisations are now realising that coaching is a necessity not a luxury. It is for this reason that in March 2017, the Stroke Association started a coaching programme in order to develop their people and increase productivity across the Income Generation directorate.
“We called on Lucinda Shaw to run the coaching programme as we knew her to be a skilled coach and she has a background of 25 years in senior fundraising management. This means that she understands the challenges that people working for charities are facing every day, at every level of the organisation,” explains Nina Walker, Deputy Director of Fundraising at the Stroke Association, who has overseen the whole programme.
“We knew that Lucinda would be a good fit as she understands our values and knows where the organisation wants to go. This coaching programme was taking place during a period of uncertainty and change in the directorate. It is an early part of a big change initiative for the charity. We knew that Lucinda could help us to support the bigger picture while focusing on the needs of individual employees.”
Coping with any change is hard and getting the programme off to the right start is vital. The Stroke Association knew that they wanted to show their staff that they were behind them and investing in them. They also needed their employees to take more responsibility and be more accountable.
The coaching programme aimed to achieve three specific objectives:
- To help team members to take responsibility for identifying and recommending solutions to the challenges faced by the charity and to look for ways of implementing the solutions
- To improve relationship building and communications within and across teams at all levels of the charity
- Develop future leaders by helping individuals to increase self-awareness of their strengths, skills and behaviours.
It was also recognised that achieving these objectives would improve resilience within teams, enhance professional working relationships and increase staff trust in their senior managers’ commitment to personal and professional development.
A supportive solution
The coaching programme was offered to an entire tier of middle managers and was initially taken up by 26 individuals. Each person was offered four confidential 60-90 minute coaching sessions and some participants got so much from the coaching that they arranged extra sessions.
When the participants were asked why they decided to join the coaching programme, many said it was due to the desire to develop or because they were ‘feeling stuck’. The effectiveness of the coaching is being evaluated throughout the programme, to ensure that the participants and the charity are getting the best value from their investment of time and funds.
Results across the board
Following the first round of evaluation, it was clear from the results that the coaching programme was meeting all three of its objectives.
When asked how they do things differently since the coaching, one participant said “I think about how to answer challenges and concerns in a more constructive way and suggest solutions to the problem to managers rather than just being negative.”
Regarding the second objective, another participant explained that they understand and listen to other members of the team in order to get a clearer perspective on their challenges and use “my skills to influence and motivate colleagues on my projects.”
In terms of developing future leaders, the third objective, one participant noted: “I have shared some responsibilities within my team. I make a conscious effort to delegate, even when not 100% sure the right result will come…I speak more to my colleagues and am more willing to share challenges – when I hear myself talk I become more committed to implanting the solutions.’ Several participants of the programme applied for senior roles and were successful.
83% of the line managers reported that their staff appeared more confident in their roles and that they found it easier to delegate work to them. More than half of the participants also felt that they understood more their impact on other people, resulting in better teamwork.
Nina Walker concludes “As a result of the coaching delivered so far these employees, and others who are joining the programme, feel they are ready for change and able to look ahead. I feel more confident about moving the Directorate forward. I know that our team are on board and can rise to the challenge. In this competitive sector, when everyone understands what it means to move a charity forward, when the whole organisation is unified around key objectives, with everyone pulling together, the charity will be in a much stronger position in the future.”