Collaborative Coaching Skills at Work
Previously called the World Society for the Protection of Animals, the charity World Animal Protection operates globally to end the needless suffering of animals, to influence decision makers to put animals on the global agenda, to help the world see how important animals are to all of us, and to inspire people to change animals’ lives for the better. The organisation moves wherever the need for animal protection is greatest, including treating more than 70,000 animals following the Haiti earthquake in 2010, training vets in Thailand, ending bear dancing across India in 2012, and investigating animal trafficking in El Salvador. Today World Animal Protection has offices in 15 countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Denmark, India, Kenya, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Thailand, UK and the USA.
With such a widespread workforce, World Animal Protection’s Global Learning & Development Manager, Carol Bull, contacted us to plan a training course which would enhance the management style of its leaders with coaching skills, create new bonds and understanding throughout its departments across the world, and develop a team of internal coaches. Management levels ranged through the Executive team, Senior Leaders, Managers, Specialists, and Programme Leads, and the vision for coaching in the organisation was:
- All managers able to utilise and demonstrate enquiry led coaching skills.
- Peer coaching, becomes the norm and is driven by individuals.
- Staff able to access a skilled cohort of qualified, internal coaches.
- Internal coaches undergo coach supervision and CPD
- All staff understand how to be a “good coachee”.
- Establish mutually beneficial, cross-organisational coaching networks beyond World Animal Protection.
Previously, the managers had not had any specific coaching training and the understanding and skill set amongst the manager population was varied.
Particular challenges to the programme included:
- Managers had very busy roles and limited time to participate in training sessions.
- Training initiatives required to impart coaching skills with lasting and demonstrable behaviour change might be costly, especially given the geographical spread.
- For many staff, English was a second language, and for some taking a coaching approach might be countercultural.
- The organisation wanted to build interest and motivation among its leaders to attend.
- Some managers might believe they already had the core competencies required to be a good coach and might not be open to the training and support on offer.
We designed a virtual training programme delivered by webinar and worked with World Animal Protection to define the content, and the title of ‘Collaborative Coaching Skills at Work’. In addition we designed a top-up tranche of training for those who wished to go on to become fully qualified coaches, to start building an internal coaching cohort.
The virtual approach was innovative at the time, before the pandemic, and became essential after the events of 2020. We have found the training to be as effective as face-to-face, if not more so because time and expense are eliminated, both for participants and trainer s, and participants do not have to spend whole days away from their offices.
As great animal lovers, we were very keen to support this charity, so included some add-ons such as free copies of Carol Wilson’s book ‘Performance Coaching’ and reduced fees.
The ‘Collaborative Coaching Skills at Work course aimed to:
- provide foundation coaching skills based on the GROW model
- introduce “ask instead of tell” approach to problem solving
- integrate coaching techniques into the participants’ natural leadership styles, including listening, questioning and solution-focused thinking
- provide techniques and approaches for collaborative and constructive conversations
- enhance mentoring skills with a coaching approach
- generate innovative thinking and enthusiasm from teams and individuals to take responsibility and ownership of their day-to-day work and projects
- provide techniques for hosting generative thinking meetings
- create a culture of learning instead of blame
- sustain new habits during times of stress
- generate resilience in times of change
- enhance self-reflection, awareness of self and the effect of one’s behaviour on others
- increase the ability to provide effective and inspiring feedback
- enhance team building and relationships
The training was delivered over six webinars, each lasting two hours, plus one day of assessments, where participants coached each other in pairs observed by our assessor. In order to win a certification of accreditation, participants also had to write a case history and provide a coaching log. The maximum number of participants on each course was 12. Our trainers are versed in special methods to avoid ‘Zoom fatigue’, keeping energy high through plenty of participation and break-out sessions for pairs or small groups.
The key to achieving great results was that between modules, participants paired up to practise co-coaching with each other, thereby growing familiar with the skills and implementing them naturally at work. This also was an ideal opportunity for creating new unity and understanding across the world.
When a sufficient number of participants have been trained who wish to be coaches, they will join together to attend a top-up course in order to:
- learn techniques for delivering formal coaching sessions and series of coaching sessions
- raise awareness of ethics in coaching
- enable the coaches to provide each other and future trainees with basic skills in supervision
- enable the participants to become “lead coaches”, creating ideas and plans for extending and embedding a coaching culture, maximising the coaching and mentoring training provided to managers
- take the skills taught on the Collaborative Coaching Skills at Work programme to a deeper level
- practise real coaching scenarios, both with course partners and in the workplace, for:
- reflecting and acting on career goals
- enabling coachees to develop their thinking and creativity, and innovate ideas
- enabling coachees to take control of and improve personal performance
- building confidence by helping coachees to recognise, own and maximise their strengths, improving existing qualities rather than focusing on “fixing” weaknesses
- supporting coachees’ resilience in times of change and stress
- supporting engagement and empowerment of all staff
The training will be delivered over four webinars, each lasting two hours, plus one day for assessments (in pairs, all on the same day). Successful candidates will receive an ILM Endorsed Certificate in coaching and mentoring, and our internal CfPAC accreditation (Coaching for Performance Accredited Coach), which celebrates the involvement of Sir John Whitmore in the design of our courses, and incorporates the title of his seminal book “Coaching for Performance”.
The Collaborative Coaching Skills at Work programme has been delivered to participants from the UK, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Nairobi, New Zealand, Australia, China, Thailand, Brazil, the USA, Canada, India, Sweden, and the Netherlands.
People loved the opportunity to interact with colleagues across the globe whom they might never have the opportunity to meet in person.
- ‘I have found the GROW model both simple to use and also extremely powerful in unlocking opportunities and challenges. – Stephen Sibbald, Global Director of Strategy, World Animal Protection.
- ‘‘Very well organized. I enjoyed so much the session. The trainer was fantastic. I really liked the way he used real examples, to show every listening category. The size of the team (attendees) is perfect.’ – Ricardo Mora, Campaign Manager, World Animal Protection Bogotá.
- ‘James did a fantastic job of pulling us out to talk yet still being respectful. Many of us have never met or worked together so it was a great opportunity to meet with like-minded people interested in coaching.’ – Amy Squires, International Corporate Engagement Advisor, World Animal Protection.
- ‘I see this course is extremely helpful to me, not only in my current role but also in my daily personal life. I am thankful to World Animal Protection and the trainers for this opportunity. This course is great.’ – Hansen Thambi Prem, Project Manager, Animals in Disasters, New Delhi.
- ‘I had a realisation that, as a manager, my natural instinct had been to provide solutions. I put myself on too much pressure to go into meetings with solutions. This coaching training has been incredibly valuable in releasing that pressure from myself. I am now much more following this coaching approach to managing and so far it has proven to be effective. I am also using coaching techniques in my 1-2-1 meetings with my team members. I have thoroughly enjoyed these collaborative coaching sessions and all the learnings will certainly be part of my daily life.’ – Pankaj KC, Global director of programme Animals in Communities at World Animal Protection
- ‘This course has helped me as a manager in terms of listening, and using more a self-directive approach with my team. For example, asking them what next steps are and showing appreciation and validation, which I feel has already gotten excellent results and helped me grow as manager.’ – Stephanie Straszynski, Project Manager at World Animal Protection.
- ‘This course was exactly what I needed, both professionally and privately. I have gotten real, practical and useful tools to enable me to communicate better.
One thing I’ve noticed during the course’s duration is that I have only received positive feedback (as opposed to so-called constructive feedback) during conversations, and I have given only positive feedback during talks. There has been no need for giving constructive feedback to anybody, which I think sets this course apart from other management courses which often tackle feedback as a way of criticizing or questioning behaviour or actions. As one of my partners said, people are smart and conscious, no need to state the obvious…
My coaching partners all had interesting challenges to talk about and great sincerity. The conversation would take interesting turns and towards the end you would realize that so many issues had been talked about and resolved in some way, no matter who you had spoken to!’ – Marie Grundström, Chief Operating Officer, World Animal Protection Sweden.
- ‘I really learned a lot in this short period of time and will definitely use most of these skills in my professional and private life. This course is definitely something most of our colleagues could benefit from and I hope our organization will make it even more accessible.’ – Blanka Scheffer-Dedi, Global Project Manager, Animals in Farming at World Animal Protection.