Did the parents leave yet?

So Richard Branson’s experimenting with Netflix’s ‘no holiday policy’ approach.

I love that he’s trying something different to see if it gets different results.

I wonder what different approaches people will take when putting it into practice –

1. Work constantly with no holiday (or just the statutory minimum) to avoid things falling apart, or to get that promotion, or both.


2. Develop strong teams (virtual or direct reports) so they can step away and the world won’t fall apart.

As much as I think this move away from a parent-child to adult-adult culture is great, I believe the parent will still be in the room……just further away from the holiday-booking activity. Because fundamentally the business will reward the behaviours it wants to see (think of parents with sticker charts for their kids).

So if people who work flat out and don’t take holiday get ‘rewarded’ with promotion for all their ‘hard work’ – guess what, you’ll get more people not taking holiday – and burning out.

If people get rewarded for leading, collaborating and delivering with, and through, others enabling them to have holiday without things falling apart then that’s what people will aspire to do.

So the parent’s still in the room – I don’t think you can ever completely get away from that – but at least they’re loosening the apron strings. Now, I wonder what behaviour-management approach they’ll use.

I believe in people being the key to success in a business and that success is unlocked by great bosses. I’m an Executive Coach for SME businesses to help create success for them, for their team, for their business.

Get in touch if you want this for your business – helen.amery@wildfigsolutions.co.uk
or take a look at my website to find out more http://www.wildfigsolutions.co.uk


#CIPDCoach14 – Roundup from me

HelenMichelleSelfiI really care about coaching cultures becoming the way we do things in Britain – I’ve experienced coaching from both sides of the table and the impact is just huge. The difference it can make to individuals, and therefore the organisation, is the reason I set up my own business.

So I feel privileged to have been tweeting and blogging for the CIPD today at their Coaching Conference 2014 and to hear some of the fantastic stuff that’s going on!

Michelle Parry-Slater and I were there to capture the back channel action on #cipdcoach14 so take a look to see some of the insights on there.

And I’ve been doing some live blogging from the sessions which I’ve rounded up in here.

IcebucketBut before that, hats off to the CIPD who’ve listened to the feedback from the same event last year – the speakers were a major step on from 2013 and there was even some interaction (http://wp.me/p45I4E-fE)! It was also loads better to keep everyone together for the whole day. Last year I think people had a sense of FOMO with what might have been going on in the other stream of sessions!

So if you want to see my posts from each of the sessions you can see a bunch of stuff from the corporate approach to embedding an internal coaching or mentoring approach from –
News UK – http://wp.me/p45I4E-fw
Visa – http://wp.me/p45I4E-fI
BBC – http://wp.me/p45I4E-fL

You can see what’s going on in an adult-to-adult self-managed learning approach from –
Ikea – http://wp.me/p45I4E-fB

And then there were the exciting, innovative approaches other organisations are taking to push the boundaries of what we believe to be ‘the way these things are done’ –
Freebridge – http://wp.me/p45I4E-fm
Cisco – http://wp.me/p45I4E-fU

All underpinned by a strong message from Frank Dick OBE about coaches needing to have the winning mindset, positive attitude and desire to be challenged in the same way they expect of their clients –
Frank Dick – http://wp.me/p45I4E-fp


My favourite sessions by far (which you might have already guessed!) were those from Cisco and Freebridge. They’re taking approaches that exist, and new ones that maybe don’t, and making them fit THEIR business, THEIR context in a way that works FOR THEM. They’re not following the pack. They’re not doing the ‘best practice’ thing. And they’re getting great results! This takes bravery. It takes support from the very top of the organisation. It takes commitment to see this stuff through and not move quickly onto the next shiny thing.

But I also admire Ikea for their adult approach to learning. How many organisations continue to push people into learning to tick a box or to do an easy sheep-dip? ‘We’re doing this new sparkly learning programme and we want all people in X job to do it’. What will they gain from this? What will you gain from this? What if a coaching approach from managers removed the need for much of the sheep-dip because those conversations would enable the learner to think for themselves and find the stuff they need to develop to meet their goals for themselves.

So there really is great stuff going on, but something that interests me and which I believe in being needed for this stuff to really stick, is the strategic approach. Although Freebridge hinted at it (and I appreciate they have a limited number of minutes to speak so there may be more of this to hear about) but nobody really talked about how they were thinking about coaching form a strategic HR, helicopter view. helicopter-clipart-ncX8zrpcB

Maybe it was the wrong audience for that?  I don’t know.  But either way, it’s something important to me….and means asking –
What’s the culture we want round here?
What are the attitudes and ways of being we need from people to achieve that?
How do we want people to feel? And what would make that true?

And so….
Yes we’ve heard today about what that means for how you might develop people – the coaches, the mentors, the line managers.

What does that mean for how we recruit people?
What does that mean for how we have performance conversations?
What does that mean for our reward structure?
What does that mean for our succession planning?
What does that mean for communications across the organisation – consistently & ongoing?
What does that mean for absence – or even better, healthy living – conversations?

I’m not saying you need to have all the answers to all of this when you set out. All you really need is clarity of what you’re trying to create. Clarity in the kind of place you want this to be. And clarity that everything you do that involves people will have a touch-point with creating that culture. If you – if everyone – has this clarity then the other stuff will follow with time – as long as the coaching culture is starting to take hold. Freebridge gave a taster of this with the fact their coaches are now taking this stuff and running with it. I wonder what else they can achieve.

So what does this mean for you?
Where will you start?
What’s the next step you’re going to take on your journey?

If you’re interested in thinking about what this could all mean for your organisation, I’d love to explore it with you, so give me a call (07718 316 616) or drop me a note (helen.amery@wildfigsolutions.co.uk).

Photo credits –

#CIPDCoach14 – A Peer Coaching Network

Final session for the day! Biba Binotti (Red Hat People) and Gillian Dore (Cisco)…..

Cisco have a PEER COACHING CULTURE – who, what and why?

Their definition (Robbins ’99) is what I know as ‘buddy coaching’ but with some added bits around solving workplace challenges together which almost makes it feel like it borders onto mentoring.

In Cisco VUCCA is making work so fast & unpredictable and they’re losing time as peer coaches to take that time to reflect….this sounds interesting…how they make this peer coaching stuff work in an agile space…..

It’s about relationship with process and ourselves – do you start your day driven by your emails? Do you even stop to check in with yourself, let alone check in with those around you? How do you make relationships work in these organisations.

Cisco’s 30 years old but was only 7 when Robbins wrote his Peer Coaching definition – things have changed! Cisco’s now one of the key players in tech – aspirational. When you look inside, it’s a matrix org with low hierarchy and high span of control with an informal culture but formal processes – incredible paradoxical space!

They develop managers to be able to coach in a moment when the need demands it. It’s a fluid approach but with development sessions to start them off with the skills they need. But now, how can peer to peer coaching support this fast business?

3 ingredients for them to create the culture and mindset they want in the business….their SECRET SAUCE!…..
1. Co-creative relationships – the whole is greater than the sum of the parts
2. Go-Giving – not like the Go-Getting of the 80’s. People want to leave a legacy of something they’ve done or given instead of wealth – attitude of more generosity. Having an ‘in service of’ mindset – working with others with a positive intent.
3. All Potential – what if you don’t have the best ideas, what if you stop your ego and be open to anything & believe that anyone can contribute.

This stuff applies to anything – skills don’t.

To build on 1:1 peer to peer they’re developing people to take a ‘1 to many’ coaching approach.

Real life examples from managers in Cisco…..

– A group of managers together on a ‘conscious leader’ development programme now continue to work together to support each other – even to the extent of working together with ideas about going for a promotion – each of them wanting the same job. Egos stripped away. The stuff they shared in the group grew relationships beyond what’s normally seen in business – stuff they might not have even told their husbands and wives.

– Creation of new content by working with others around you – develops bravery by working together.

– The attitude is spreading beyond boundaries and gaining momentum.

– Working with other teams who might have challenges to see how things can be moved on, or where you might have had similar examples you can share with your peer to support them.

– ‘Conscious leaders’ are being invited into other countries and teams to bring new thinking and generate innovation.

Taking us to an example of how this can work….a bit of NLP here for the room to try…..
Close your eyes
Think of a colleague you’d like to give some feedback to
Now feel yourself giving that feedback to them
Notice how you’re feeling
Have you avoided giving that feedback and started to think about something else

Now open your eyes and look again at the 3 secret sauce ingredients
Imagine you’re co-creating – neither of you has the answer but by starting the conversation you believe that something greater will come of it.
Imagine you’re go-giving – what’s going on for them, what do they really need, what would you really want for them
Now imagine anything’s possible

Close your eyes again
Recall those 3 channels
Say the feedback, out loud if you want, in answer to these questions…
– where do they succeed?
– where do they fail?
– what is their unintended impact?

Did you notice a difference between those two?
Give yourself a couple of words for what that difference was – ‘collaborative’ ‘structured’ ‘supportive’.

A simple mindset shift to change your attitude to others and the impact you can have on them.

Saying that the ‘conscious leader’ development process starts with ‘I’ where you get clear on what’s important to you. Then layer on with those around you. Up to the point where they have a symbolic session of stepping across a line in response to challenging questions to test their commitment to the change.  Going deep with this stuff through searching questions.  And demanding significant commitment from the leaders on the programme – no sessions can be missed. There’s no option on that.

“Peer coaching is a powerful co-creative relationship that enables an expansive environment for reflection, refinement, building, sharing, development, experimentation and innovation  in service of the whole” (Red Hat People & Cisco)

#CIPDCoach14 – Executive coaching linked to business?

Jane Saunders from the BBC is moving us through the organisation with her session and onto exec coaching – how to meet both the client and business needs. I wonder how Jane sees this differing from how you meet both the client and business needs anywhere else in the organisation. I reckon it’s challenging whatever level you’re at……over to Jane…..

Their story, their clients, their coaches, their evaluation, their plans for the future – lots to hear about!

Back in late 90’s when some ‘random people’ in T&D & HR who’d found this new thing called coaching & they wanted to provide a service – working towards providing internal coaching equal to or better than what’s available externally.

In early 2000’s they worked with Ashridge on leadership development & were offered coaching, action learning, mentoring, master classes…. Because of the volumes they did internal development to become self-sufficient with all this delivery and move away from Ashridge reliance.

They have mission, vision, expectations of leaders which have only been soft-launched so far….

The BBC need their leaders, like many orgs, to be more effective, to be more commercial, to think more about their vision and strategy for the future for their teams, to develop their teams to deliver.

They use their coaching in the BBC to work at the transformational end of the coaching spectrum so they can raise their awareness of the impact they have on others and develop to be a better leader.

What are their goals?
What does the business need of them? Is it different in their department?
Where’s the org going? – Jane’s acknowledging that this isn’t as good as it could be at the BBC
3-way meetings with the client’s boss
SMART’n the goals up
Short, sharp coaching programmes – this bit does tie into strategy because big change programmes in the past have made use of 1-off sessions to make sense of the change so they can engage their teams better – KNOW YOUR WHY!

Similar themes coming through from Jane as previous sessions with application process to find coaches, 12 months’ training and mentored field work, commit to 3 clients at any time, quarterly supervision, CPD. But she also checks with HR in case there’s going to be anything happening that is known about that would prevent a coach from staying with the BBC for the next 12 months – getting time back from the investment in their development.

Also similar to what we’ve heard before, they need coaches to have presence, emotional intelligence, organisational credibility, readiness, commitment. And similar again with (internally delivered) coach development that’s EMCC and ICF accredited with a final assessment to confirm whether someone becomes a coach or not – no guarantee. Then ongoing they have CPD (e.g. Nancy Kline *lovethatlady!*, Gestalt, John Whitmore) and Supervision (sharing, supporting, successes). This is great to maintain standards and credibility of the coaches – Jane recognises that you can never get to a place where you sit back and say you’re the perfect coach with nothing else to learn.

And how do they know if it’s working?
– Immediate feedback on progress in sessions, feedback on the coach, coach’s perspective, feedback from training & CPD, internal review feedback.

– A plan for mothers returning from mat leave.
– Embedding coaching within divisions – encouraging coaches to work with snr leaders in their own division who wouldn’t normally get a coach and who could be future senior leader talent.
– Post attendance on leadership course – oops missed what this meant!

Some great stuff going on in the BBC and following similar themes to others we’ve heard from today, including the theme about it being focussed on helping Hi-Po’s. My lasting impression is that this session, the Visa session, the News UK session are very corporate, structured, controlled. In some ways I see that this is important to maintain standards but I can’t help feeling a bit flat from these – compared to Freebridge where coaching feels like it’s been naturally embedded, grown and where it’s infiltrated every part of the organisation without needing to be part of such a ‘proper’ structured approach.

Maybe I just really care about coaching being part of the whole culture – it really is just the way we do things round here, it really does fit with our values (the written and the lived!). Maybe these corporate examples feel too separate, like a separate bubble of activity that’s only available if you’re ‘important enough to the business’.

#CIPDCoach14 – Visa, Coaches, Managers, Mentors

Claire Molin from Visa is sharing her coaching strategy that began in 2010, which combined with a mentor programme, and then into internal coaches – and still on a journey. This stuff isn’t necessarily quick to get embedded – have an eye on where you’re heading while being mindful of where you are today.

If a manager’s a good coach, it shows up in what they do every day, they develop and coach their people – this is in their performance objectives and performance at it can influence pay and bonus decisions.

Visa have been really clear on the roles – she says it’s unusual to have managers, mentors and coaches in one org. Surprised to hear this. Maybe formally’s unusual but informally I’m sure it happens all the time. Visa are still learning and spotting that sometimes when a manager requests coaching for a team member, it’s often the manager that needs the coach.

They’ve collected a variety of skills that all 3 roles need – set appropriate goals (except the client should go this, not the coach or mentor?), monitor performance, feedback both ways, motivate others, questioning and listening skills, organisational savvy, deal with change, emotional intelligence, business credible.

Claire’s describing the different development routes they have in Visa – management pathways, mentoring, coaching (they went with EMCC accedited qual so wouldn’t ‘break anybody’!) – but interesting that these pathways only talk about CPD activity being for coaches and mentors. Do managers not need ongoing development? This goes back to what Andy Lancaster said at the start – it’s better to give your car a regular service than to ignore it for years – ….small……regular……..learning…..interventions.

#CIPDCoach14 – interaction & how to ask q’s w/ strangers

In recent months there have been lots of conversations coming out of CIPD events about the approach at conferences needing to change to bring some of the great learning environments into reality at these events – there’s a desire to move away from constant ‘sage on the stage’ sessions because they’re not the best learning environments.

In fairness the ‘sages’ we’ve seen so far today have been great but it’s even better that the CIPD have listened to what’s important to their members and they’ve created the chance for some action learning sets in the room. May this be the start of the continuous evolution of the world to be collaborative so we learn together and perform better!

We’re seeing someone on each table bring a challenge to the group that they’d value some help with – but not ‘advice’ help. This is about questions to help their thinking, to discover new routes through, to generate new ideas in themselves.

And quick stuff – only about 5 minutes for each round – the next person is on to talking about their challenge, ready for some questions.

Interesting that I’m hearing questions about the content, the safety zone of questions, and I’m hearing advice-giving.
Do you notice yourself doing this as coach?
How often do you stay comfortable with the ‘not knowing’ and asking questions to help the client’s thinking, rather than to satisfy your own need to know, control – and perhaps to satisfy your need to KNOW the perfect solution to their problem?
Do you really believe your client has the ability to generate their own ideas and fresh thinking?
How do you know that what you think or say is better than what they’re about to think or say?
What impact will you have on them if you tell them your idea first – even if the way you ‘say’ it is through clever questions that take them to the answer you wanted them to get to!

There’s a great exercise you can use in a group setting which can be incredibly powerful to enable someone’s thinking……
The ‘client’ gives an outline of their challenge
The ‘questioners’ can ask a couple of clarifying questions if needed
Going round the table, each questioner takes their turn and asks a question of the client with the intent of helping them find a way through (what is it you really want to achieve with this? what would be the worst that could happen…type stuff – and even get creative!)
The client doesn’t answer, they just write the questions down
You go round the table 2 or 3 times taking turns to ask a question
The client reflects on their questions and notes the 1 or 2 that have been the most helpful to their thinking
They can then take those away to consider further – or maybe to get some 1:1 coaching.

It enables the questioners to be challenging of the questioner without the social awkwardness of ‘is this going to be too challenging’ – even if they’ve only just met!

Great session to get people talking, sharing and learning though – brilliant Andy L & the events team – more of this please!

#CIPDCoach14 – Coaching in Self Managed Learning

Now we’re hearing from Eric van der Does from Ikea. Eric spoke last year about how they brought internal coaching into Ikea and is now going to talk more about how this links to self-managed learning (SML).

Ikea’s built on a dream by creating a better everyday life for everyone at a low price.

To make the low price a reality, you need employees who can take responsibility for their own learning. The SML approach helps people see where they are, where they want to be and how they’re going to get there. Part of the SML activities include group activities where they see colleagues naturally coaching each other.

Even thought Ikea’s a fun place to work, this isn’t just for fun. Personal desires and ambitions need to fit with those of the org.

They set people up with the manager and facilitator / coach involved. Although the facilitator might be involved actively from the start, being clear about how the methodology works, they guide the group but the group often then takes their own responsibility and manage their own learning – active learning set approach. Managers need to be actively involved to show support of employee. And employee needs to take responsibility for their learning goals.

The groups are established with a positive, non-judgemental approach which is brilliant to enable trust to develop and individuals to feel safe to share because from the start they’re talking about where they’ve been and where they are now before moving on to where you want to be – at this stage they also get 1:1 coaching to understand what they’ve heard from tools such as 360’s – then they move forward to work in the group on their short-term learning needs. Although for many there could be years of development they see ahead.

The measures of success for Ikea can be seen with people being more clear about what they want in their life, & professionally, they’re aware of their strengths and weaknesses & that their time is best spent building on strengths while developing weaknesses so employees are doing jobs they’re more suited to and managers are more aware of these aspects. Although it’s hard to see a clear red thread to financials, they are seeing the stores involved in SML performing better!

Having started this in 2009 they’ve had more than 400 participants, supported by 48 facilitators. They’re mostly using for Hi-Po’s and Team Development. This feels like a theme emerging of a focus on Hi-Po’s. Although Freebridge, at the start of the day, seem to have fully integrated a coaching culture so coaching is an approach experienced by everyone – as well as being brought to benefit leadership development approaches. I wonder how these two could be combined more so that coaching is just in the culture AND self-managed learning is just the way it is for all……I think we’re on our way!