Coaching at Work e-newsletter — September 2010

Welcome to the September issue of the newsletter Having former cop Russell Waterman help me with my enquiries about how coaching is transforming the lives of ex-offenders was a joy (see Highlights of current issue below). It’s always refreshing and uplifting to see coaching spreading out to corners others than those of executives’ sparkling offices. The UK’s Royal Mail is no stranger to upheaval and sadly, it looks as there’s more on the way if the coalition government forges ahead with privatisation. The organisation’s decision to deliver coaching to help its leaders cope is likely to be one it doesn’t […]

Age old divides

Most employers are not geared up to manage an ageing workforce, despite the impending abolition of the Default Retirement Age (DRA) and the fact that a third of UK workers will be aged over 50 by 2020. The failure of UK business leaders to adapt to an ageing workforce and to invest in appropriate training and development is putting the future success of their businesses at risk, argues a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the Chartered Management Institute. The vast majority of respondents (93 per cent) see value in retaining the knowledge and experience […]

Mounting pressure to tackle stress to bring opportunities for coaches

Pressure is mounting on employers to step up their stress prevention and management strategies and coaching is likely to be just what the doctor ordered.

Ignoring responsibilities in stress prevention and management can expose employers to a number of legal risks, warns a guide produced by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) with support from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), advisory body Acas and the cross-government Health, Work and Wellbeing programme. The guide spells out employers’ legal obligations in identifying and preventing stress at work.

As the pressure increases, increasing numbers of organisations are turning to coaching to help them improve employees’ wellbeing. Balfour Beatty is one such organisation- within its Plant & Fleet Services division, coaching is at the heart of a multi-pronged wellness programme. The programme focuses on peak performance, emotional intelligence, wellness and use of the HeartMath resilience tool (“Balfour Beatty rolls out executive ‘wellness’ programme to all staff”, Coaching at Work, Volume 5, Issue 4)

Coaching can not only help indentify stress but can help employees develop strategies to tackle existing stress and prevent unhelpful responses in the future, as well as increasing wellbeing generally. Profesor Stephen Palmer, director of City University London’s Coaching Psychology Unit and author of a number of studies and books on stress, said:

“ When we set up the Coaching Psychology Unit at City University London, stress and coaching was a specific area that we decided to research and it’s remained high on our agenda. One item that coachees report is that coaching helps them manage or reduce stress. The research appears to back this up. What has interested us is how stress levels are reduced and wellbeing are improved even if they were not goals to be addressed in the coaching conversation. These are the hidden benefits of coaching which may be overlooked by employers. Solution focused and cognitive behavioural coaching are ideal approaches to assist in stress reduction and enhancing performance at work.”

Coaching can also help improve communication between managers and their direct reports- open communication makes it easier for managers to notice telltale signs. Jane Bird, director of operational policy and performance, Acas, said: “Effective line management is key to preventing stress where possible and managing it when it does occur. If managers create and maintain effective, two-way communication, they are more likely to notice when someone is struggling and intervene.”

The CIPD’s guide, Work-related stress: what the law says, was written by John Hamilton, head of safety, health and wellbeing at Leeds Metropolitan University. It highlights recent cases where employers have faced significant compensation payouts for failing to identify and prevent stress adequately, as well as providing advice on how employers can tackle stress through good people management.

Dame Carol Black, national director for health and work, commented: “It is in employers’ interests to manage stress at work proactively and not just assume all staff are coping, particularly in a tough economic environment where many employees are under pressure to do more with less.”

The CIPD’s quarterly July 2010 Employee Outlook survey showed almost half (49%) of staff have noticed an increase in stress at work as a result of the economic downturn.

Ben Willmott, senior public policy adviser, CIPD, said stress at work can have a significant impact on business performance. “Employers that fail to manage stress effectively risk losing key staff through high absence levels and employee turnover. They will also suffer from low staff morale and risk higher levels of conflict and accidents in the workplace. In addition, they potentially face costly personal injury claims, as well as damage to their employer brand.”

Are you there?

Fans of the work of Ingmar Bergman, will appreciate the importance of silence in human interaction. In coaching too, silence can be golden. But just how does that work in a telephone session? John Charlton explains Silence is a really important part of good coaching. A good coach knows silence indicates reflection,” says independent coach Marianne Craig. However, coaches need to know how to work with it, particularly if they’re coaching over the phone. Those new to phone coaching, and even the more experienced, may wonder whether the client is reflecting, distracted or even if the line has gone down. […]

Managers misjudge their strengths and weaknesses

More than half of the UK’s managers misjudge their strengths in the workplace, according to research from Chartered Management Institute (CMI). CMI recently asked 2,000 managers which aspects of management they thought they were best at. Many claimed to excel at managing people, some said they were great target-busters and others claimed they were strongest at managing themselves. CMI has since put those perceptions to the test by inviting UK workers to use a specially-developed self-diagnostic tool to work out where their strengths and weaknesses lie. The results strongly contradict managers’ perceptions, with just 14 per cent of the 6,056 […]

ICF gauges global awareness of coaching

Liz Hall The public’s awareness of coaching varies widely across the globe but on average, more than half of the general population is aware of professional coaching, according to the first set of results of a survey by the International Coach Federation (ICF). Overall, 51 percent of 15,000 participants in the ICF Global Consumer Coaching Awareness Survey reported they were “somewhat to very aware” of professional coaching. General awareness varied by country from 92 per cent in South Africa at one end to 20 percent in Germany at the other. ICF set out to gauge the worldwide reach of coaching, […]

A fair cop

With 60 per cent of its short-term offenders returning to jail, Hull had a huge and costly problem. That is, until ex-chief inspector, Russ Waterman, came up with a liberating solution. Liz Hall investigates Russ Waterman used to be a “typical cop”. He went to work, did his paperwork and went home. But after a while he started to believe there were other ways to police. Why not treat causes not symptoms and work with the community to deliver what they want, not what professionals deem best? And that’s what he did. The former chief inspector is now heading up […]

Adapt and survive

Senior managers are increasingly being asked to work across cultures on a global scale. To do so they need to let go of their ingrained beliefs and become cultural chameleons. Jenny Plaister-Ten explains why this ‘unlearning’ is the jewel in the crown of global coaching In today’s global economy, executives are increasingly required to be culturally agile. They must interact in multi-cultural and remote teams, introduce products and services to an international market, source talent across the globe and compete on a world stage. Yet they are often hampered by the effects of deeply ingrained cultural influences. Unlearning the cultural […]

Don’t get your hopes up

How many times have you been faced with a client and felt paralysed by your own ineptitude? In this series, Sam Humphrey looks at stereotypical clients and identifies the CPDs you can undertake to support your coaching mastery. This issue: the uncoachables Client profile Theme tune The Final Countdown Favourite TV Any big money game show (especially when the contestants lose) Catch phrases “… and then you die”; “I could have told you that would happen”; “What’s the point?” Role models Statler and Waldorf from The Muppet Show; the Old Gits from The Fast Show Spending time with this client […]

How to… Coach better decision-making

By ROBBIE STEINHOUSE Coming to the ‘correct’ conclusion, and acting on it, is harder than it seems. Coaching has always been a useful clarifier here, but tools such as the decision simulator are helping clients find the right answers – faster As we know, coaching can lead to better decision-making simply by creating the space for people to take time and reflect. Often a client will talk about an option, then realise that its not such a good idea, or they don’t really want to do it that way, or a new alternative exists. However, there are also specific decision-making […]