There has been a lot of interest over the past few years into the idea of coaching to an explicit agenda, one that combines the needs of the client, the needs of their organisation with a particular set of ideas or framework. The addition of an explicit agenda – for example, complexity, business development, strategy development – in a sense adds a tutorial element to the coaching interaction.
Oil blending plants mix together crude oil and additives to produce engine oils. At the time of this case, the company owned three plants employing around 480 people and with a turn-around time from order to delivery of 31 days. These were unionised, labour intensive operations though each plant had some degree of automation in parts of the operation.
This joint-venture organisation had won some major infrastructure planning projects; and there was potential for more such assignments in the near future. As a branch of the government, their clients needed to ensure ‘value for money’ and wished to see evidence of ‘collaboration’; this was made a pre-condition for the award of future contracts.
A rapidly growing client had promoted a number of their more experienced professionals into ‘Managing’ roles. The plan was for this group to assume more responsibilities so freeing the principals to focus on strategic growth & further strengthening relationships with major accounts.
Reorganisations seldom move as quickly as their architects would like & this was no exception.
It is an old saw that it can be ‘lonely at the top’, yet a client – an influential Board member – made just such a remark recently. When asked how a coaching assignment had contributed to his work, among other things he commented how helpful it had been to have someone with whom to ‘kick the tyres’, going on to say that many of the challenges he faced revolved around people issues and how sensitivities made it more difficult to hold those types of discussions with internal colleagues.
A short while ago we carried out a research project to identify the characteristics of truly effective business services professionals in the legal sector. It was initially focused on Human Resources delivering their services to internal clients but as the research continued it became clear that the lessons were equally applicable across the spectrum of business services functions – IT, secretarial, marketing, finance etc.