Evaluating and enhancing the internal Job+ coach programme by Petra Macdougald
In December 2016 I shared with you the benefits our internal Job+ coaching programme generates and how we worked in parallel with 5 internal full-time coaches and a pool of 13 Job+ coaches (colleagues who perform individual coaching in addition to their business tasks) to meet coaching demands. This way of working allows us to provide individual and team coaching as well as support leadership development.
One particular point I discussed in the article last year is, ‘how we are trying to grow this pool of internal part- time coaches to meet demand and keep high quality standards in terms of training, CPD and supervision’.
I believe that nearly a year later is a good moment to pause and take stock on the success of our internally delivered, externally accredited coach training programme as well as the other support offers to our coaches.
I hope that sharing with you on how we fared, the lessons we have learned and how we will continue, will be an inspiration for companies who are running or intend to run internal coaching programmes.
What did the 1st training course for the Job+ coaches entail?
To provide future coaches in our company with the skills they will need, we chose the Institute for Leadership and Management (ILM) level 5 programme in coaching and mentoring. Training companies can design their own programmes based on the ILM syllabus requirements and need to get these approved by the ILM.
In our case the practical training was run over 6 days in the space of 4 months in our head office in Brussels and participants had 8 months to complete the reflective and practice portfolio (I have seen anything in the region between 90-120 pages). We ran the first course 2016/17 with the head of coaching and myself as approved assessors, but still had help from an external consultant to provide the training as well as an accredited ILM centre who had designed the course to obtain accreditation. We had 12 participants on the course, with a real (very much intentional) diversity mix in terms of location, seniority grade, language, department, etc.
We in fact spent a lot of time discussing amongst the full time coach colleagues to discuss motivational letters of applicants, and working on the diversity before confirming enrolment to the participants.
Everyone was very happy to have been chosen for the course and extremely motivated to get going.
To support learners optimally during the programme we not only assigned a tutor to them, but also an already active, experienced coach, to exchange with them of assignments and reflections on their practice throughout the programme.
Then, in October 2016 we were ready to go!
What happened throughout the programme?
For us, the Head of Coaching and myself, giving co-delivering the course was a wonderful and rewarding experience! It also created a strong bond between all of us, the future Job+ coaches-myself-Head of coaching.
I think that this is a very important point. Making it easy for people to exchange with others will help avoid that Job+ coaches feel isolated in their coaching work.
This interaction comes in addition to meetings with the Job+ programme manager and supervision. Our new coach colleagues also really appreciated that the course was held in-house, even though some from other locations had to travel.
When accompanying participants throughout the training we noticed that the classroom sessions and the coaching practice afterwards were the parts people managed quite easily.
Where we did observe difficulties was with managing the work-load on the written portfolio (theory of coaching and application, recording practice and reflection and self-reflection as a coach) in addition to their busy agendas. As a result, out of the 12 participants, 7 completed on time. For others we extended the deadline by 1-3 months. We have also noticed that the more senior people are, the trickier (or impossible) it becomes to get this work completed next to the Job.
We, the assessors, had also to get familiar with the marking and resubmission process and we realised that the pure marking per candidate requires a considerable time investment from our side and that is not yet including support (individual meetings to discuss questions) and marking re-submissions.
At the end of the 2016/17 programme we were able to add 9 new coaches to the Job+ pool. These coaches are now active members of the coach community, coaching approximately 3 coachees in parallel each. They feel that the training programme has equipped them very well to perform their tasks as business coaches.
So we were overall very happy with the success of our first internal coach training course!
What worked less well?
While the classroom training and practical experience worked out for all, some colleagues found it hard to complete their portfolios on time. Some did not manage even with deadline extensions. This was frustrating for the participants and also difficult for the tutors as we were trying to get our part of the work organised to support people optimally. This issue with completing the written assignments was particularly visible for colleagues with higher seniority grades.
The changes we will make in the next programme
Upon reflection of all the elements outlined above, we have decided that the ILM programme is the one we want to continue to run due to the very good results that we have in terms of skill and readiness of our new coaches. We believe that it is our way forward to train our talent for coaching.
We however need to work on raising more awareness on the written work and look what alternatives we may want to offer to senior leaders who are interested in training as coaches.
This year we will run the course as an accredited ILM centre ourselves. This has nothing to do with needing to improve from the previous course, but simply with the fact that we can now deliver the training through our own coaching centre of excellence independently from external providers.
To address the general issue with completing the written portfolio work, we have outlined the work required by participants even more explicit in the pre-programme discussions. Also, when teaming participants up with active coaches, we have chosen coaches who have followed the ILM programme, so that they can provide support also on programme specific questions. We will also extend the time during which portfolio's can be submitted from 8 to 10 months to avoid that we have to check in with people too early.
In addition, as the classroom training was very intense, we have decided to extend the classroom training by half a day.
Beyond the training programme and next steps
In addition to training our Job+ coaches, we are also providing them with group supervision with a trained external supervisor. Each Job+ coach needs to have a certain number of supervision hours per year to maintain their 'license to operate'. As the Job+ coach pool is growing, we need to extend this offer. To gain additional flexibility to provide this service, our head of coaching (who is not the direct line manager of any of those Job+ coaches) is training to become a supervisor.
Furthermore we offer CPD events (sometimes with the Belgian Coaching Network) to our coaches. Ideally I would like to extend this offer as well, with maybe a half-day session every three months where we discuss a topic and have shared learning.
As we want to continue to engage senior leaders as coaches, we will investigate alternatives to the generic coach training programme that are more easily combined with their business role.
If you want to connect with Petra, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Petra is internal Cross Divisional Lead Coach in Euroclear Bank, Brussels. She provides individual, team and group coaching at all levels of the company and is also responsible for the internal Job+ coach programme, the training of new coaches as well as supporting leadership development programmes.
Her business career of 30 years in the finance industry prior to her full time coaching appointment mainly focused on roles relating to relationship management and strategy and included managing and developing teams.
Petra's passion for personal development increased over the years in line with her involvement in people management. This interest led her to become involved in coaching and in 2012 she became an accredited business coach. Petra is an active member of the Belgian Internal Coaching Network and a Member of the Association for Coaching.