Following a strategic review of coaching, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is swiftly moving from using coaching as an ad hoc, disparate activity to one that is tightly entwined with its learning and development strategy. Coaching is set to become a major tool for the organisation to enhance its leadership capability, raise performance and also support the MPS's transition to a more responsive, approachable and partnership-based culture.
MPS is the largest employer in London, consisting of 55 000 serving police officers. In the last five years MPS has embarked on a journey away from its hierarchical culture and traditional 'command' style of leadership. The service has committed itself to a policing approach that depends on building relationships and partnerships with individuals and communities.
Not why but why not?
In the words of an internal coach and police officer: 'In the light of our four core values, the real question is why would we not use coaching? It supports everything we are trying to do to build a quality service and help our staff develop a more inclusive, assistive and reflective style of leading.'
The strategic review, as well as a successful coaching pilot with senior leaders, led the Met to some important conclusions about the ability of coaching to support the MPS's policing strategy and core values and beliefs. It is a message endorsed by some of the organisation's most senior leaders. For example, Martin Tiplady, MPS's director of human resources, says that he and his colleagues on the MPS board are united in their personal determination to spell out the long-term, tangible benefits of coaching. 'We are ready to identify what this investment in coaching is about and why, operationally, it means something. It is not just another new initiative or culture change process; it can have a demonstrable return and make a direct impact on our results.'
Coaching within the Met is therefore positioned as 'performance coaching'. The stated aim of performance coaching is to 'enable leaders to maximise their potential and, in accordance, optimise their personal and professional performance in the workplace'. The Met believes coaching is most effective when it revolves around clear SMART performance goals, consisting of both private and public goals. Coaches aim to help their coachees identify 'current performance levels in relation to an agreed goal and specify actions (including timescales) that will improve performance and ensure the goal is attained'.
For Jackie Keddy, police officer and Coaching and Action Learning Lead Consultant, success will come when a different type of conversation is heard in the rooms and corridors of MPS: 'Culture is made from language and behaviours - a five-minute coaching conversation in a corridor can be a powerful catalyst for change. If we can embed coaching conversations into our culture, we will have a major lever for profound culture shift.'
MPS has found that coaching works most powerfully when it is delivered alongside 360-degree feedback (known as values-based feedback because feedback is gathered around specific MPS behaviours and competencies). Says Jackie Keddy: 'They work together incredibly well and people change as a result of the experience. For me, coaching, action learning and values-based feedback are definitely three jewels in the crown of learning and development.'
Building a coaching 'footprint' across MPS
The Met has decided to take an incremental and long-term approach to embedding coaching skills. In cost terms, this is a pragmatic approach for such a large organisation. In cultural terms, senior leaders believe that a 'full-frontal' approach would not work but simply whip up resistance among staff, particularly operational staff, who may not immediately see the potential benefits of coaching in their role at the front line. In the words of Jackie Keddy: 'We have to be gently relentless!'
The Leadership Academy (LA) is responsible for coordinating coaching activities and integrating a consistent approach across a range of leadership development programmes. A full-time coaching lead consultant has been appointed, an individual who is widely respected for her extensive operational experience and passion for coaching. There is strong agreement among the coaching team that the best way forward is to allow coaching to gain credibility slowly, as growing numbers of staff experience coaching for themselves and see the difference it makes in others, especially more senior leaders.
The plan is to 'seed' coaching throughout MPS using two approaches. One approach, according to Bill Griffiths, is to 'get more people cognisant of coaching skills by presenting coaching to every level of the organisation through a one-day workshop that will give people the ability to have a coaching conversation'. He adds: 'Given that we have approximately 1200 staff going through our team leaders programme, that is quite a footprint that we are building.'
The other approach is to give staff opportunities to become internal coaches (in addition to their existing roles) and to opt to receive performance coaching, either as part of a leadership development programme or in response to a development need identified during such programmes. There is also the hope that local divisions will begin to request coaching, and 'LA Local' is currently piloting a coaching initiative within an established training programme for MPS boroughs.
The coaching team has identified several groups that have been prioritised to receive coaching within the next two years. These include:
§ team leaders
§ newly promoted programme leaders
§ established programme leaders and command leaders
§ in the longer term, Band B and superintendent-level programme leaders.
MPS is now implementing its new coaching strategy. The first cohort of 33 existing internal coaches have been matched with their clients, and a second cohort of 14 individuals are currently progressing through the internal training programme. Coaching is offered in both the Commissioners Leaders Development Programme and the Programme Leaders Development Programme. Coaching has also been introduced into the Team Leaders Programme in conjunction with 360-degree feedback.
LA trainers are also being trained as coaches, so that this approach can be incorporated into any type of learning and development activity. The LA is also engaged in an initiative with six local boroughs in an effort to communicate the benefit of coaching and promote uptake at a local level.
MPS has decided to start small and let coaching slowly gather momentum as people see the benefits of becoming a coach and/or being coached. The coaching process is in place, but it will take some time to see how the process works and whether it will need further adjustments. Time is likely to be an issue for both coaches and coachees - it may be all too easy to let coaching slip down the list of priorities, given that it is an 'extra' activity.
Analyse the above case study.
1. Identify the key OB theories that are addressed.
2. Discuss their application within the case study.
Reinforce your analysis with examples from your own experience
please mention the theiories only
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