I asked Richard to talk about the emergence of a
coaching culture at Casey and he outlined for us their “best practice” approach.
‘Coaching at Casey emerged from a program called “Peer Assessment” feedback. As facilitators of peer assessment when we worked with employees to understand their feedback, we recognized that coaching questions brought the strongest results. An example would be if an employee received some general feedback around communication style, in the early days we might have gone in and said “they want you to meet with them more regularly, that’s clear!” We realised pretty quickly that asking questions like “what do you think would change this perception?” produced much better results. So after two years of doing peer assessments we realised that what we were doing to get the best out of this process was really coaching in the workplace. And it’s become a really important tool for the facilitators but in fact all supervisors and staff across the organisation.’
Richard shared the vision for coaching at Casey ‘that we build confidence and awareness throughout the Organisation that coaching is a way to have conversations, we introduce coaching “one conversation at a time”. The concept is that everyone is a leader/coach, that’s what we advocate at Casey and it comes through when people are prepared to have coaching conversations. The vision is about showing respect, taking responsibility and being positive.’
And with that Richard goes on to explain the importance of the link between the Organisational “Trademark Behaviours” and coaching and he considers the link to be “golden”.
The City of Casey Trademark Behaviours are:
- Show respect
- Take responsibility
- Be positive
- Listen and respond
- Think things through
‘In coaching we start out showing respect that the employee or colleague has the answers; we are assisting that person to take responsibility for their actions, which for me is the key outcome of the conversation; that coaching conversations are always positive – it’s about what we can do, not what we can’t do; coaching encourages us to listen – often silence is golden; and a well run and empathetic coaching conversation will ensure that things are thought through.’
‘Another aspect is that when people are having conversations, if there is any hesitation
with people about whether they are coaching or not coaching we encourage people to say “I’m going to ask you some coaching questions, some thoughtful questions”, then people understand that this is their opportunity to be asked some questions, to be listened too, to have time to reflect and to come up with possible solutions. It is embedded in our Trademark Behaviours that these conversations can flow.’
Richard makes a really important distinction between just implementing “coaching models” versus the culture of coaching conversations in the workplace.
He says ‘Coaching models are great to launch people into coaching, and to understand coaching and “how to do coaching”. A person can be introduced to a coaching model, and know how to use the model (running through the questions and then call themselves a coach). But these models are all pointless if the person who is being the coach has no respect for the employee, or has no intention of helping the person take responsibility or talk in a positive solutions manner.
A person can be using a coaching model, but the sort of attributes that make a coach are the ability to be in the moment, in a place with the employee to really want to produce the best for that employee. So going through a check list of “ask this question next” is genuinely not going to work if you want to have coaching as a culture.’
‘The toolkit is important,’ says Richard, ‘but without believing in the person then the person might as well stay away from any toolkit! They have to believe that respect for ideas, responsibility for action, positive behaviours is really what they are trying to achieve through the coaching interaction.’
‘Anyone can read a book and say “oh I do that (coaching)” but it is so much more than that. It is about the principles and behaviours, the belief in people and the focus on culture.’
I asked Richard about “what came next” after introducing coaching into the peer assessments. He responded, ‘After the two years of peer assessment, and the realisation what they were doing was coaching, we wanted to formalise the coaching approach and trained ten people initially in Certificate IV in Workplace and Business Coaching to bring the coaching expertise into the organisation. At the time of writing this has been extended to a further 20 people and we have continued to drive the coaching conversations throughout the organisation.’
I asked Richard about how he “proved the value of coaching” and he says ‘The proof came out of the peer assessments which continue to be a success. Coaching also provided a way for executives to have conversations, including difficult conversations, so they were feeling the impact personally of being able to have better conversations.’ ‘On top of that our engagement scores have increased significantly’ and Richard says ‘whilst we can’t draw an absolute direct link, it is very pleasing after the years of peer assessment and workplace coaching that engagement scores have increased dramatically from 54% in 2009 to 74% in 2013.’
The ‘City of Casey’ is one great example of a Dynamic Coaching Culture roll-out that can also begin at your very own municipal and community. 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 Organization.