Continuing our series looking at coaching tools and techniques, Coaching at Work road-tests the photoVoyage process THE WOW! FACTOR photoVoyage is a process that combines portrait photographs with facilitated conversation, raising self-awareness and allowing us to see ourselves as others see us. Here, Penny Millar, owner and director of photoVoyage and an executive coach, along with Peter Wilson, executive coach and Academy of Executive Coaching faculty member, reveal how they experienced Peter’s photoVoyage. Penny Millar: In coaching, as in life, I believe that personal authenticity is essential. photoVoyage allows us to look ourselves in the eye and talk about the […]

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Coaching helps ADHD students

By Liz Hall Coaching can help students with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) improve their study skills, well-being and confidence levels, suggests research carried out by the Edge Foundation. Some 127 students from eight universities and two community colleges in the US took part in the study by researchers at Wayne State University. It is the largest study to date to examine the effects of ADHD coaching. The study by Sharon Field, David Parker, Shlomo Sawilowsky and Laura Rolands suggests that coaching helps students improve their self-regulation, study skills and will. It also helps to build students’ confidence and enhance their […]

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Viewpoint – my humble opinion

Tim Casserley Come the next financial crisis coaches must help leaders – as well as themselves – redefine the scope of their influence While the recklessness of the financial services industry was pivotal in bringing about the world financial crisis, it may well have been the culmination of a far wider malaise. It is one that permeates current notions of how organisations operate, what leaders do and how they are developed. By and large most leaders – and most coaches – see leadership as being in control of an organisation in singular pursuit of maximum profit. This paradigm is based […]

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Organisations barking up wrong tree with employee engagement strategies

By Liz Hall

Many employers and coaches are barking up the wrong tree when it comes to the hot topic of employee engagement.

Employee engagement remains critically low because although it is employers’ number one concern, many are getting their strategies wrong. Employers need to shift the focus in their employee engagement strategies away from big-picture issues such as charismatic leadership and work/life balance towards rebuilding employees’ trust both in their employer and immediate manager, and the relationship between manager and direct report. These were the key messages in the Training Foundation’s white paper on employee engagement, The Rules of Engagement, launched on 14 June.

“This carries profound implications for the value of coaching, because the number one influence on employee engagement is the relationship between employees and their immediate manager – yet most have had no training on how to get the most out of their people,” said a spokeswoman for the Training Foundation.

The paper’s strategies have been endorsed by David Macleod, co-author of the Macleod report to Government on Employee Engagement (May 2009).

Employee trust levels in employers are low because of the current climate of austerity, wage freezes, lay-offs and short-time working. Rebuilding that trust in the employer, and in the manager, is an urgent priority.

Employers and coaches need to make sure they look at the role of emotions in decision-making. Recent discoveries from neuroscience and genetics are confirming occupational psychologists’ findings that the importance of emotions to decision-making is far greater than previously thought, says the paper.

The workplace climate is more important than organisational culture. Most employers are focusing their engagement strategy on organisational initiatives such as flexible working. Whilst important, these are not producing results because they are trumped by a far more influential factor – the importance of the employee/immediate manager relationship, which is the key factor in up to eight out of 10 decisions to leave a job, the ultimate measurement of engagement. Surveys by The Training Foundation and others show that less than 20% of managers have received any training in engagement skills and how to bring out the best in people.

Only 24% of UK employees are engaged with their job, according to the latest Gallup Engagement Survey and the CBI reported in May 2010 that employee engagement is now the biggest challenge facing employers. Sixty seven per cent of businesses said employee engagement was their priority going forward, while seven out of 10 said engagement would play a vital role in their business’ recovery

The rules of engagement are:
Rule 1 Engagement is founded on trust
Rule 2 Engagement is driven by emotions
Rule 3 Engagement is 20% culture, 80% climate

The Training Foundation, formed in 1998, is a performance improvement organisation focused on assisting employers to improve organisational performance in two critical areas; by sustaining high employee engagement and by effective learning and development strategies. For more information or to access The Rules of Engagement white paper, go to

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Toolbox — Strong language

Continuing our series looking at coaching tools and techniques, Coaching at Work road-tests the Realise2 assessment tool 1 The tool What is it? Realise2 is a web-based strengths assessment tool developed by the Centre of Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP). Launched in June 2009, it assesses 60 different attributes according to three dimensions: energy, performance and use. The aim is to help people identify and develop strengths, while moderating learned behaviour and managing weaknesses. Realise2 assesses: Realised Strengths What you love to do and get to do Unrealised Strengths What you love to do but don’t do Learned Behaviours What you […]

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Cause for action

Coaching is a vital part of business development. Just make sure it is tied to your organisation’s strategic intent Jane Turner ‘Coaching’ and ‘culture’ are words that sit well together. We hear and read a lot about ‘coaching culture’ in practitioner literature – indeed, implementing a coaching culture among management is the aim of many an organisation – but breathing life into these words is a challenging journey.  The extent to which that challenge is met will determine and demonstrate how coaching can support the strategic intent of an organisation. As the effects of the recession continue to be felt by […]

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Book reviews — Volume 5, Issue 4

Title The Psychology of Executive Coaching: Theory and Application (2nd Ed) Author Bruce Peltier Publisher Routledge ISBN 978 0 415 99341 8 Usefulness 5/5 The first edition of this book rapidly became a must-read on many coach training school lists. This second edition is even more deserving of classic status. Additions include four chapters looking at the kinds of psychopathology an executive coach might encounter; an introduction and evaluation of emotional intelligence; adult developmental theory and leadership development theory. Other chapters look at assessment; the psychodynamic view; behavioural concepts; the person-centred approach; cognitive psychology and therapy; family therapy and systems […]

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Survey links coaching with talent development

Coaching take-up in the UK is the highest ever, says a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). More than four-fifths (82 per cent) of organisations use coaching although only a third evaluate it, according to the CIPD’s 12th annual Learning and Talent Development (L&TD) survey unveiled at the CIPD’s annual HRD conference on 21-22 April. The most effective L&TD practices are coaching by line managers (51 per cent) and in-house development programmes (56 per cent). Coaching by line managers is used by more than 56 per cent of respondents. The three most effective activities to manage […]

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On song

What has music to do with coaching? Rachel Ellison brought her iPod along to a session with a high-level executive. His personal transformation proved to her she was on the right track Go and get your pads on,take your place in the sun From Bangalore to Kingston, the age of revolution… from The Age of Revolution by The Duckworth Lewis Method We’re in the darkened meeting rooms of a global bank in London. Its the 40th floor. Only executive board levels and ‘nearly theres’ are allowed up here. My client is a senior risk manager. We’re talking about emerging markets, […]

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How to… coach meritocrats

Surely hard work and talent will get you where you want to be at work? In truth, sought-after posts go to those who look beyond the limits of meritocracy – and it is the coach’s job to help them capitalise on what they do best By SUZANNE DOYLE-MORRIS There is a lie that all organisations like to tell themselves – that only the best and the brightest succeed, creating a ‘naturally occurring’ aristocracy of talent. However, one doesn’t have to look further than the dramatic economic crises of the past 18 months or the dearth of diversity in senior teams, […]

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