Guy Buckland, Head of People Development at Osborne Clarke explains how coaching and mentoring can produce measurable benefits to our performance and also have a positive impact on well-being. Guy is presenting at the CIPD Developing Line Managers Conference which takes place on 8-9 May 2019 in London. Book your ticket today.
“My name is Guy Buckland, and I am a scientist”.
This may not seem much of an admission to you, but let me explain. Despite studying Biochemistry at University, all of my professional career has been about people. The first half was spent in various management roles in a large organisation, whilst the second half was all about helping people and organisations learn and develop, albeit to a firmly commercial agenda. The direct delivery or the provision of coaching and mentoring has figured very prominently and centrally in what I do. I always thought that while you could measure the eventual outcome of coaching and mentoring and demonstrate it was worth the investment, it was impossible to understand how it worked and that human relationships could not be reduced to numbers, process and evidence.
Quite simply, I always thought that helping people perform better was an unexplainable facet of what it is to be a human being and that at the core of helping people to change through coaching & mentoring, must lie the provision of empathy, an almost spiritual quality that good coaches possess, which could never be understood.
At Osborne Clarke we deliver coaching to our talented and high potential people at key points of transition, and have built mentoring programmes that span our organisation as well as helping us build links beyond it. A key part of this has been to equip managers with coaching skills, which they use to support and challenge their people with the issues of performance, progression and fulfillment of their potential of their teams.
Much of this has been driven by driven by the usual business needs to ensure our organisation thrives, and we are pretty good at measuring its impact at both an individual and organisational level. We know coaching and mentoring produces substantial and measurable benefits to our performance.
At the same time we have, like all progressive employers, been working on our well-being offer, providing many benefits from Yoga to gym membership, from fruit to first aid. Strategically we are examining workplace culture and identifying the aspects of our managers’ behaviour that make a key difference to employee well-being.
It turns out that coaching can have not just beneficial impacts on the business goals the coaching was aiming to support, but that it also has a big impact on the well-being of those that have received coaching. Moreover the very reason this happens is now known to be because the relationships that we have at every stage of our lives shape brain function, and have a direct impact on our well-being.
This knowledge is grounded in the findings of the emergent field of neuropsychology. The work of scientists such as Dr Paul Brown and others, and the research of the team lead by Dr Alison Carter at the Institute for Employer Studies, have provided the evidential link between studies of the brain, and the positive impacts of coaching. Our ability to conflate empirical studies of coaching, and match that to the findings from brain-imaging studies gives us confidence that coaching could be much more powerful than we previously thought.
So it turns out that far from being some mystical, unexplained force for good, there is genuine science behind why empathic relationships can have such a positive impact on those we coach. It turns out that this has a very scientific explanation and that all of my previous mythical beliefs are just that. Myths. So the admission that I’m a scientist after all is but the joining of my intent to support our people with some cold, hard scientific logic. It’s such a relief!