Coaching Goes From Strength To Strength

In the last decade, WME’s coaching offer has experienced massive growth. We have supported over 1,400 clients and delivered over 7,800 support hours. In a special interview with Sam Darby, WME’s Leadership and Development Business Partner, she outlines WME’s coaching journey, explores the reasons for its’ growth, the benefits and what the future holds. There are also some highlights from the 11th annual coaching and mentoring conference.

So what’s the journey been so far?

“WME’s journey with coaching started in 2008, with the launch of West Midlands Coaching Pool. Our vision was clear, to support our member local authorities harness the potential that coaching can offer, to help individuals “be the best they can be whatever, the work environment.” Starting with 13 local authorities the pool has doubled in size to 26 organisations, all of whom are now committed to developing coaching within their organisations until 2022. As well as local authorities, we now have Police and Fire Services, University of Gloucestershire and the Gambling Commission.

“Working with our subscribing organisations we have continued to develop the pool to meet their needs. This includes broadening the offer to include both coaching and mentoring, along with the launch of a series of complementary coaching development training courses. We have invested heavily in technology with the implementation of a state of the art on-line matching system. This has moved the matching process from a manual intervention to an intuitive, efficient, secure and mobile compatible service. Plus, this is also available to support matching for subscribing organisations own internal coaching services.

“Consequently WMCMP remains a pioneering coaching and mentoring partnership recognised by the industry’s best, having been featured in Coaching at Work magazine as a best practice case study in Coaching in Professional Contexts (Sage 2015).”

What do you think has driven this growth in coaching?

“The understanding of the benefits of coaching has grown increasingly in recent years,  particularly, the recognition of the value of leaders having coaching skills. However, the often prohibitive cost of purchasing coaching has driven the need to develop internal coaching resources. The West Midlands Coaching and Mentoring Pool (WMCMP) provides a cost effective solution for organisations to develop great coaches internally, as well as access to coaches outside the organisation, which can be essential for gaining alternative perspectives. Along with the ongoing investment from WME, this has certainly made the pool an attractive proposition for organisations looking to develop coaching cultures.

She continued that “Leadership makes a massive difference to performance, particularly when it focuses on engagement. Further research by Gallup found that the most beneficial leadership style that fosters engagement, is a coaching style. Coaching and mentoring services provided by WMCMP encourage this engagement style of leadership as they are largely focused on understanding how change happens, how behaviours impact and how to motivate yourself and others and with great results.

“One of the significant benefits of being a coach and mentor in the pool is the increased understanding it can give them of different parts of an organisation and a wider perspective and understanding of the issues and challenges across the public sector. Which in in turn enables them to think about their own local issues from different viewpoints. This is particularly valuable, as many of the challenges faced by the public sector today are not solved from a single perspective. “

So why do people join the WMCMP?

Here are just a few things our subscribing organisations have been saying: “WMCMP is an invaluable resource that we have been lucky enough to access. It helps individuals perform excellently and raises their confidence, skills thinking and knowledge and I feel this resource should be accessed by any manager. Service Manager, Staffordshire County Council.

“We are pleased to join the WMCMP as we feel this will be a valuable resource for our managers particularly at a time of significant change. The opportunity provided by coaching for an individual is unique in encouraging reflections to gain personal insights. This makes coaching a powerful and sustainable intervention creating personal change. Therefore, coaching in addition to our other resources provides a strong support to our staff.” University of Gloucestershire (new WMCMP pool member, 2018)

Cost is also a driver. The pool can offer coaching resource far beyond what an organisation may be able to afford, for example, in the last 3 years one County Council accessed over 200 hours of coaching which would have otherwise cost them more than £40k* – triple their pool subscription fees! (*based on industry averages)

How do you ensure that WME’s coaching and mentoring offer remains ahead of the game?

“At WME we are committed to continue developing a pioneering coaching service, through working in partnership with industry leaders. Our national coaching and mentoring conference, provides a great platform to share this cutting edge knowledge and provides access to the latest thinking in coaching and mentoring. Our established annual event, now in its 11th successful year saw over 175 delegates come together to learn from industry specialists and leading organisations, such as Linbert Spencer (OBE), The Centre for Inclusive Leadership,  ILM, West Midlands Police and the University of East London. With significant global changes on the horizon especially Brexit, the fast paced advancements in technology and being the year which saw the 100th anniversary of WW1, we wanted our 2018 conference to look at the future we are facing, by looking at what we can learn from the past. We wanted delegates to reconnect with their values and how these have had an important part to play in how they respond to change.

“We explored how the workplace has transformed with regard to multiple generations, people working longer and possibly having multiple careers. Plus, we looked at the exponential rate of change particularly the impact of technology and the drive for organisations to measure results beyond finance. We focused on agile working and how through coaching we can support people to develop better engagement.

“Our Platinum Sponsors the ILM who are making it their mission to help organisations realise the benefits of coaching, launched their recent report: Cracking Coaching. Watch their short video to see a summary of the findings. Plus Thinking Focus shared with delegates their innovative gamification tool to help managers to prepare for different workplace situations – you can also read more about their work on the LoveyourHR blog.

What does the future hold for WME coaching services?

“With 26 members signed up to WMCMP for another three years, we believe the future is bright for WME coaching services. We will continue to work in partnership with our subscribing organisations to evolve a service of the future. For example, we are already looking at how we can address the digitalisation agenda and the speed of access but still maintain the human dimension, vital to a coaching relationship. We will review how WMCMP can assist managers deliver in challenging and difficult roles whilst protecting their mental health. And we will explore how WMCMP can respond to the challenges of agile working to mention but a few. And finally hold the date for the 12th annual coaching conference on Monday 25th November

If you want to find out more please give me a call 0121 569 2070.