Azri started out learning various HR roles at Colgate and was first exposed to coaching when working on top talent programs. He also had theopportunity to work at different large companies including Shell, in a HR generalist role coaching the leadership teams and top talent in the organisations that he supported.
In his current role he describes one of his critical roles is to coach and challenge the leadership team in the business.
This is a rare opportunity to hear from one of the leaders in one of the worlds best organisations. We are privileged to share his insights with you.
At GE, coaching is already part of the culture and it is imbedded in the leadership programs that they run. For example, if you are lucky enough to be on the management development course, you are exposed to coaching tools and sessions during the program (for ½ or 1 day during the course), because they are sending the message that the ability to coach is a critical part of their leadership development and that it is important that you (as in individual) receive coaching.
Most programs have a business assimilation, a 360 degree element (including coaching), they have leaders to coach the individuals as part of the program. It is part of your life at GE to be coached and to coach others.
Azri says to see the coaching in practice at GE, for him has been personally quite amazing. The leaders that he works with ‘really do live coaching at the workplace and also in their personal lives’. For example, one of the simple things he tries to do, with his children also is ‘praise in public, discipline in private’. A person can be coached on a mistake that has been made, and this is done in private.
‘Coaching is part of GE’s DNA and continues under Jeff Immelt’s leadership. What is expected of you is to deliver on your numbers. Use the tools as your leaders have used the tools and coach as they have coached you. Leaders share their stories frankly to reinforce the culture of respect and trust which are important bedrocks of coaching. In GE how you deliver (leading, coaching, being inclusive, etc) is equally as important as what you deliver (numbers, KPIs, etc).’
I asked Azri, to explain more about the culture of GE as he experiences it.
At GE they do believe that each person is a leader and it is deeply engrained in the company culture. Azri says ‘You lead to ensure that you are able to achieve. GE expects people to take charge, to deliver and it is expected that individuals will also resolve issues – across all levels. The leadership philosophy is “we all rise”. They have a culture of possibilities. A leader will not ask “why are you not doing this?”, they will ask “what can I do to help you achieve those things that I have asked you to do?”’
The culture calls for employees to be able to bring their own set of recommendations to the table when discussing challenges with their bosses.
How does coaching assist leaders in working through change?
‘Change is part of daily life at GE’, says Azri. In his two years in GE, Azri has been through two major reorganisations, and ‘it is amazing how our people are able to adapt to change and amazing how it is accepted as being “business as usual”. During these times, our employees continue to be focused on the numbers.’
Leadership and coaching through these times are a given, as is the approach to the change. ‘When you talk to a leader, if he doesn’t know something he will say “I don’t know, or this is what I can tell you”, and this can be trusted,’ says Azri.
They have a direct and open culture.
One of the philosophies that Azri lives by is one that he picked up from the book The Leadership Challenge. In the book the authors talk about the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, one of which is “Enable Others to Act”. He describes GE as having an ‘enabling culture’ where each and every person is valued. Coaching is a very big part of bringing out the best in people at GE.
The GE story is one great example of a company that exemplifies the Best Practices of Coaching, in their Workplace. For the full article and more Coaching case studies, check out our latest book, “Bring Out Their Best – Inspiring a Coaching Culture in Your Workplace”. You can get a copy of the book here clicking here!
Or simply contact Coach Mel and the APIC Team at firstname.lastname@example.org to discover the Power of Coaching for you and your workplace.