13 Years of leaving Customers Better Equipped

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News & Updates

25/07/16
Alpine is celebrating 11 years of leaving our clients better equipped through intelligent resourcing. As part of our Workforce and Leadership Elevenses series of opinion pieces on the workforce issues that matter to you, we focus on the usefulness and application of executive coaching.

Coaching through change

Against the backdrop of unprecedented reductions to local government budgets, it is not surprising that council employees face heightened challenges and uncertainty in the workplace.

In some cases it will excite people to raise to the next level, but for others it can result in anxiety that can have a detrimental effect on performance, quality and effectiveness. In such situations, leadership – the ability to motivate a group of people toward a common goal – becomes even more critical a skill. Yet even natural leaders need support.

Executive coaching is a key tool to support mangers leading change and having to make difficult decisions. The current economic realities and the new challenges leaders are facing cannot be resolved solely by formulaic taught courses or service-based classroom-type programmes devised for more stable and predictable times. Moreover in our age of instant action and gratification, expectations of immediate communication and social media can create views and pressures to instantly react rather than reflect. This is where coaching comes in.

For many managers, coaching provides the time and space to work on their own dilemmas as leaders, and to step back from and discuss their challenges – which they may feel unable to resolve within the organisation in which they work. Using proven coaching approaches to support those who are leading the change can result in real benefits.

Firstly the approach is confidential. Secondly it is personalised to fit the needs, personality and workplace situation of the employee, often providing much needed ‘me-time’ and space whilst on travelling on the conveyor belt of crises. Finally the coach is not a consultant. A consultant’s role is to bring the solution, but the role of the coach is to enhance competencies, self-awareness and’ emotional intelligence’ through reflective action – not to provide the answers. It is for the person being coached to come up with solutions, and ways to retain their focus during times of structural re-organisation, staffing changes, efficiency savings, and new ways of working with partners and other bodies.

In the world of local government this is paramount as the financial pressures demand that councils must re-imagine their role and services. Some best practice councils are using coaching as a tool to increase organisational capability and to change mind sets. Coaching is useful not only in building employee functional capacity but also personal capacity in dealing with change, communicating and influencing teams and external stakeholders, and ensuring the change is reflected positively in front line services.

Access to an experienced coach can help even the most competent seasoned leaders and managers to open their minds and refresh their thinking. For example one chief executive said she struggles to implement innovations corporately that were essentially about service efficiency rather than a better customer journey. Undertaken effectively, coaching nurtures clarification and facilitates agreement on where shifts need to occur, what needs to happen and when, how this can be done, and what the indicators are that change has been successful.

And increasingly councils are using coaching to build resilience, and it has been effective for managers looking for career change and transition. Helping them to identify their key skills, achievements and aspirations, and to promote these amongst their networks and other potential employers. It can allow space for employees to articulate their fears – which is the first step to confronting them. Used wisely coaching can create a self-sufficient and confident workforce equipped to lead and manage public services in the millennium.

Bernie Wilde is an ILM Executive Coach who has supported leaders and start up businesses across different sectors. Ruby Dixon is Head of Local Government at Alpine, and a graduate of Ashridge Executive Leadership programme.

About

Alpine is a leading provider of interim management, thought leadership and consultancy services. Our core values of integrity and transparency underpin everything we do.

Alpine Resourcing

020 3478 1340

info@alpine.eu.com

Alpine Resourcing, 20 Little Britain,
London, EC1A 7DH