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Xenonex shares why a coaching culture can drive workforce performance

The Xenonex team regularly see the positive benefits of embedding a coaching culture within an organisation. Here Danone and Cancer Research UK explain why they chose to develop coaching and mentoring amongst their workforce.


Danone digs deeper

Danone recognised that, despite expectations for continued growth amid turbulent market conditions for others, projections for that growth were being slashed and the business needed to adapt and change.


“We’d used coaching selectively before and we knew there was something about coaching – we knew it could develop trust, but it was more of an enabler than anything else,” said Danone UK head of learning Paula Ashfield. “We commissioned research which found that coaching comes out as the number one initiative to create leadership and talent.”


Danone realised this person-centred approach could bring very substantial benefits to the organisation – and also to the employee – helping them understand their role in the organisation and the wider system they are working in.


One of the most critical points to making it a success was that Danone knew the problem it was trying to solve and by targeting these specific needs it has been able to get the most from its project.

The business committed to the programme for the long term. It expected it to take several years to see results and believed in the eventual outcomes That patience is now bearing fruit and importantly, this includes recognising and understanding how employees can help the business through more than their core vocational skills.


“Yes of course there’s still room for expertise and functional experts, but actually we are much happier through coaching conversations to recognise potential in different ways. We trust people’s potential far more than we ever did and that shows through in the risks we’re willing to take on the support to the business,” Ashfield added.

Cancer Research targets its talent


Cancer Research UK sought to tackle a different problem with its coaching and mentoring programmes.


Its engagement surveys found that while employees were committed to the cause, they were not always so wedded to their manager or role. “We’ve come to think of it as a bit of a parent-child culture – so the parent is looking after their children but are they helping their children grow? In the way we thought, not enough,” explained Cancer Research UK director of brand Anthony Newman.


Newman and his colleagues wanted employees to feel empowered to do what they do best. This meant less input from their manager – and hopefully improvement in retention and promotion.


“So coaching culture is all developed around improving performance – coaching not being a nice to have but being a must have thing and a very challenging thing. Coaching is a management style. It’s about creating a more empowered culture,” Newman said.


“Our aim was not to turn anyone into certified coaches, our aim is to use coaching techniques within their regular conversations – within meetings, one-to-ones, brain storms, in the kitchen, by the lift, any conversation that people have there’s coaching tools that they can use. And we were very comfortable with mentors using coaching tips within those relationships too,” he concluded.

Follow the link to read the full article “Why a culture of coaching can drive wider workforce performance” by Owain Thomas.


Xenonex is an approved ILM Centre and is recognised for the quality and standard of its training in the National ILM Hall of Fame. The Xenonex team trains internal and external coaches and has experience of developing and embedding coaching within the public and private sector.

For more information call 0113 322 9234 or email katy.hebblewhite@xenonex.co.uk

Suzanna Prout