Worldwide Performance Coach Training for Leadership

CASE STUDY: Eastlight Community Homes

 

The Coaching & Mentoring Course

Overview

Eastlight Community Homes, a pioneering housing association in the East of England, manages an extensive portfolio of 12,500 properties, encompassing social rent, affordable rent, and shared ownership. The organisation is committed to fostering the health and wellbeing of its residents by providing access to high-quality, secure homes in desirable neighbourhoods, with a focus on affordability. Profits are reinvested into new housing developments, enhancements of existing properties, and service improvements, underscoring Community Homes’ dedication to its community.

The Learning & Development Manager at Eastlight, Tom Ratcliffe, engaged our services to deliver a bespoke coaching skills course aimed at the association’s leadership team. The objective was to integrate coaching methodologies into the organisation’s daily interactions, fostering a transformative cultural shift.

Following the training phase of the programme, a three-way coaching-style appraisal session for all members of the board and several committee members was commissioned.

Solutions

Initially, there were uncertainties regarding participant interest and the availability of budgetary resources for the training programme. To navigate these challenges, we collaborated closely with Tom to implement a phased training approach. This strategy enabled participants to engage in a two-day introductory session, after which they could choose to pursue further training based on their experience and the availability of funding.

The response to the preliminary tranche of training resulted in significant interest and exceptionally positive feedback, paving the way for securing the necessary funding to continue with the programme for all the participants who wished to do so. As a result, the programme was extended to deliver ILM Recognised Certification, culminating in the accreditation of the attendees as professional coaches. This accomplishment not only signifies a milestone for the participants but also marks a pivotal step in Eastlight’s journey towards embedding a coaching culture at the heart of its operations.

The course was highly interactive and practical. Topics covered included foundation coaching skills, the GROW model, our models for Permission Protocol and Coaching Feedback, our team-building framework for Generative Thinking Meetings, and coaching structure with worksheets.

The programme was designed to:

  • qualify participants as accredited professional executive coaches
  • embed coaching skills into their everyday styles of leadership and communication
  • introduce the principles of the ‘ask instead of tell’ approach to problem solving
  • provide the skills required to motivate employees
  • introduce the principles of ‘solution-focused thinking’
  • provide motivating and inspiring coaching feedback skills
  • improve delegation skills
  • provide a structure for productive and team-building meetings
  • provide tools and skills to support performance development
  • embed a coaching mindset
  • create a coaching culture

In order to embed the learning, participants were paired to practise with each other between the training sessions. One of the most common challenges that organisations face is that while people may enjoy a training course, they sometimes fail to use the skills when back in the workplace. We know that humans learn through making mistakes (think of children learning to walk), but managers cannot afford to risk any awkwardness with their reports, colleagues, or customers, so they do not attempt to use the new skills and quickly forget them.

To remedy this, our practical assignments between training modules provide participants with a ‘safe place’ where they can experiment, learn from mistakes, and make the skills their own. In this way they absorb the learning and are able to source the appropriate skill at any time, fluently and automatically. These practical assignments formed an essential part of the training, and as well as embedding the learning, they gave participants an opportunity to network with other employees and strengthen team bonding.

A comprehensive set of materials was provided for each course, including an 80-page manual, a PDF of slides shown during the training, and copies of Carol Wilson’s book ‘Performance Coaching: a Complete Guide to Best Practice Coaching and Training’ (Kogan Page).

As the programme moved on to the 360 reviews, our Head of Training James Wright, who had led the coach training programme, jointly facilitated the sessions alongside the Chair and each appraisee. The results were summarised in written reports.

Each session was preceded and supported by the 360 reviews and self-appraisals. Unscripted, non-judgmental coaching discussions followed, where each member was encouraged to focus on their strengths and to be as open, innovative and candid as they wished.

Outcomes

All the participants successfully completed the accreditation criteria and were awarded:

  1. ‘Coaching for Performance Accredited Coach (CfPAC)’ certificate which reflects the contribution of Sir John Whitmore to our programmes.
  2. An ILM Recognised Certificate. The ILM is the leadership arm of the UK’s foremost workplace awards provider, City & Guilds.

The outstanding takeaways for this group in terms of leadership were the Generative Thinking Meeting, listening capability, and a solution-focused approach.

During the 360 reviews phase, the members responded appreciatively to the new coaching approach. Their reports highlighted an increased sense of engagement and motivation towards their roles on the board, and they felt supported to make more proactive and innovative contributions to Eastlight. They also reported a deeper awareness of the organisation.

Comments from the participants highlight their takeaways from the programme:

  • “I don’t say this lightly, but I can honestly say that this is the best training course I’ve been on in my career. Absolute masterclass from James, that has fired my appetite to become a coach myself. This is an ambitious course, packed with high quality content, delivered with tremendous skill by James.” – Steve Aleppo, Executive Director.
  • “All managers would benefit from this training. Really engaging, I’m excited to take the skills away and use them in 1-2-1’s and on an ad hoc basis.” – Nicole Smith, Head of Sales.
  • “Developing my coaching knowledge and skills through the Culture at Work programme has been hugely rewarding, and I feel better equipped as a team member, manager, and now coach, with the tools I have gained.
         The Coaching Feedback model has proven an invaluable tool to reflect, discuss and identify learning points and ways to improve, in a supportive and purposeful way, while providing methods to avoid the misunderstandings, defensiveness and conflict that can often occur in a typical feedback setting.” – Tom Ratcliffe, Learning & Development Manager.
  • “I have learned that using a coaching style is best for circumstances that would otherwise have a challenging conversation.  By prompting my colleague to speak first by using open questions, generally unearths the issues that need to be discussed.  That is much less aggressive than me coming to the table and providing my view at the outset.
         I am regularly using the coaching style in team meetings to check that we are all signed up to the same goal.  It helps develop a deeper understanding across the team of what we are trying to achieve.  I have also found value in using the generative thinking technique to ‘cover ground quickly’.  Where there is a lot of content or moving parts to pin down, generative thinking works well and is empowering for the participants.” – Emma Palmer, CEO.
  • “At its core, the manager-as-coach role involves fostering a supportive environment where individuals can maximize their potential. Unlike traditional management styles, coaching emphasizes collaboration, empowerment, and growth. Sir John Whitmore’s model highlights the shift from a directive approach to one focused on facilitating learning and self-discovery.” – Tracy Wright, People Director.
  • “Excellent training, very relatable and I enjoyed putting the training into practice.“ – Sam Oborne, Head of Customer Experience.
  • “Great, interesting, practical. An amazingly useful session of tools I didn’t know I needed.” – Charlotte Todd, Property Director.
  • “Great course, loved it, thank you!” – Joanna Barrett, Director of Strategy and Assurance.
  • “Excellent course and trainer.” – James Greener, Head of Policy and Performance.