A company has set up leadership teams across Europe which must be bedded in – but on a budget. How can its HR director deliver while keeping costs down?
Ann is HR director in a global manufacturing organisation. Five new leadership teams with different functions and line managers have recently been set up across five locations in Europe.
With new products, ways of working and potential changes in legislation, Ann wants to provide individual support for these leaders over the next 12 months as they ‘bed in’ to their new roles. She also wants them to grow as a talented group of senior people who can take the organisation forward in the short and (hopefully) longer term.
While in the past most leaders had face-to-face one-to-one executive coaching (with team coaching also provided for senior teams), these interventions are not currently feasible financially. The company is also committed to reducing its carbon footprint, so ‘reducing the amount we travel’ is on everyone’s agenda.
The CEO understands that the development of this group of leaders is key to the company’s future success and has tasked Ann with finding ways to provide high quality development at a lower cost and with as little travel as possible.
Lynn Scott MCC
Executive, team and group coach
I recommend virtual group coaching for these five leaders. In addition to the cost/time savings, working in small coaching groups can give leaders powerful learning about themselves and others, particularly in the areas of listening well, challenge and support; giving and receiving meaningful feedback, compassion, empathy, direct communication and courage.
I suggest a programme of monthly virtual group coaching sessions (1.5-2 hours) including personal email support. In addition to our group coaching sessions, I would provide virtual content on different, relevant topics chosen by the group.
Virtual groups need careful set-up. I would need to understand the individual needs of each leader so that as coach, I can pay attention both to these and the collective group needs. I would set up one-to-one conversations with each leader prior to the first group session to understand their individual needs; to understand how they ‘show up’ in groups, their hopes and fears about working in this group, how they can give to others in the group and get what they need from the group. What do they need to know/learn/achieve?
In any group, it is important up front to pay attention to how we will work together – to agree our group ‘contract’ or ‘agreement’ so that we can hold ourselves, and each other, accountable. Our first group session would do that.
Subsequent sessions would be done in different ways. In some, the group may choose a theme to focus on; in others it would be more freeform.
There would be some ‘hot seat’ or ‘laser’ one-to-one coaching with individuals, with group members encouraged to take different roles. They would be responsible for sharing their successes, questions, challenges and opportunities as part of our sessions.
Group coaching involves an element of structure, but also an element of building awareness curiosity and dancing in the moment.
Executive director, People 1st International
I agree with the small virtual group coaching solution Lynn (above) recommends as long as they all have proper visual sight of each other and there is a process for sharing documents.
It could also be beneficial for the organisation to boost the leadership effectiveness of their senior teams and equip them with the coaching skills to develop their own teams into the future – in essence a Train the Trainer programme for senior management. This would build internal capability, encourage emergence of a leadership pipeline, boost team performance and help Ann and the business meet strategic objectives.
We would recommend working with Ann to define the leadership skills the business requires and any potential challenges that may arise in implementing them. Any particular individual requirements or issues should also be identified at this stage. Then a strategic plan can be put in place to ensure the design of the Train the Trainer programme will deliver consistent results, as well as helping take the organisation forward.
The teams and their leaders are likely to have differing backgrounds, learning styles and levels of experience, so an awareness of cultural intelligence and an understanding of potential differences in communication and management styles is important, both in relation to the five leaders themselves and the teams that these executives will be supporting. This may also influence the type of learning materials used.
Finally, while virtual coaching reduces the need for travel, if budget was available I would suggest the executives meet in person at the start and end of the programme to strengthen personal relationships – this team has been identified.