Is your leadership team finding it difficult to motivate and manage staff? Or do you simply want to bring more of a ‘coaching culture’ into your business? Find out what coaching did for the management team at Money.co.uk – and the difference it made to the whole workforce.
The Benefits of a ‘coaching culture’
Coaching can really benefit fast-growing companies where people need to transition quickly into leadership roles. This was the case at price comparison company Money.co.uk, who, after a period of very fast growth, brought in People Puzzles to help with its people strategy. Among People Puzzles’ raft of recommendations to move the company forward was that Money.co.uk’s senior team undertake executive coaching.
‘The challenges faced by Money.co.uk were very typical of those experienced by clients in fast growth,’ explains Sophie Austin, People Puzzles HR Director and executive coach.
‘In leadership terms, individuals were changing roles – moving from very functional roles to leading teams in a successful, growing business. Expectations of them were different in that they needed to drive cultural change by setting the strategy, vision and objectives for their teams and then manage performance to achieve.’
Chris Morling, CEO of Money.co.uk, also saw how coaching could give his leadership team the support and confidence to manage and motivate their own teams. ‘I firmly believe there’s significant value in putting time aside to consider what you’re focusing on and how you’re going to achieve it,’ he says.
‘Having someone ask you the difficult questions you don’t normally consider helps you tease out what the best course of action is.’
Chris also wanted to engrain a ‘coaching culture’ into the organisation, where team members are encouraged to help each other learn and empower them to do their job more effectively.
Shifting the mindset from ‘managing’ to ‘leading’
Sophie Austin began to work individually with each member of Chris’ leadership senior team in May 2017, and focusing on clear objectives relating to performance, individual and business goals and career development.
One objective in the coaching programme was a shift in mindset from ‘managing’ to ‘leading’. One aspect of this is being able to delegate effectively, something that many find difficult when transitioning from functional to leadership roles. Coaching helps build confidence in this area.
‘I’m more disciplined now,’ one senior team member says. ‘I prioritise tasks with strategic significance and delegate the rest.’
Another aspect of effective leadership is empowering team members to set their own goals and support them to solve their own problems. ‘I feel like I am making the decisions and that my line manager has simply helped me to draw my own conclusions which has given me loads of confidence,’ a team member comments.
Improved confidence and communication
Coaching has also given team leaders the confidence to challenge and adapt the way that things are done. ‘One golden bit of insight was that meetings don’t have to be in an office or a coffee shop,’ said one. ‘Discussing and coaching at your desk or on the move can be equally effective.’ Improved communication means that teams are able to quickly identify issues impeding their work – and therefore agree and implement solutions faster.
Encouraging honesty about feelings and overcoming any fear of potential impact was another objective of Sophie’s coaching, and the team leaders have found that their own subsequent change in behaviour has encouraged their teams to be more forthcoming with ideas.
One team leader describes how coaching has helped the team to bond and become very close knit, adding: ‘They are now more honest about their career aspirations, more invested in their own development and are becoming more comfortable giving and receiving feedback.’
Greater confidence, better communication and a sense of empowerment are recurring themes when talking to employees at Money.co.uk about the impact of executive coaching. Employees have noticed that their line managers appear more laid back – perhaps because they’ve learned they don’t need all the answers themselves.
Similarly, the leadership team report more confidence in approaching difficult conversations and being able to handle them more sensitively.
The transformation has taken place over a relatively short space of time and Chris has noticed the difference in his leadership team. ‘They are better prepared personally as well as strategically within the business,’ he says. ‘We are on our way to achieving a coaching culture within the business which I hope will come with time.’
Sophie Austin, HR Director.