Developing productivity and profitability by as much as 30% through Conscious Coaching
The Conscious Company works with Festo ZA to increase sales by 17% within a year
And establishes a coaching culture that transforms leadership to grow the reach and influence of this specialist-engineering organisation
Festo ZA is the medium sized arm of a German-owned, multi-national specialist-engineering organisation. The company is a worldwide leading supplier of pneumatic and electrical automation technology, offering industrial and process automation, components and solutions.
Festo is an organisation that prides itself on being a learning company and over several years had developed a sound training and development culture. It had become apparent, however, that significant investment in coaching over the previous years had been useful for individual executives had not led to the expected improvements in productivity and profitability for the organisation.
Richard Teagle, MD of Festo ZA was challenged to answer the question: ‘how do we create a coaching model enabling not just behaviour change in certain individuals but also capacity growth for the entire business?’
It was only when Richard invited Anne Fuller-Good of The Conscious Company to give a presentation on Conscious Coaching to the Executive team, that they learned a new approach to Executive coaching where the whole organisation is the client; the focus is on transformational change and the measure of this change is seen in the organisation’s balance sheet. Festo felt that this approach would give them the results they needed and signed up for the year-long Conscious Coaching Programme.
It was agreed that the measure of success for the Festo ZA coaching programme would be 30% improvement in productivity. The Exco agreed that this ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal’ would be reached if the organisation showed 17% increase in sales over a year.
The executive and senior management groups took on their role as a Transformation Leadership Team and agreed that this challenging BHAG would serve to unify the focus for the following year and inspire exceptional thinking.
“Everything has been driven by the target, without it the change would not have happened…it has been a good thing as it has forced people out of their comfort zones.” – Festo managers
“With the whole drive towards the BHAG, we were thinking out of the box and looking at different customer needs.” – Festo managers
The Conscious Coaching programme began with the establishment of a base-line definition of the current situation. Each team member received a questionnaire to quantify the current DNA of the organisation – its attitudes, approach and actions, or its ‘heart, head and hands’.
This baseline established the main themes to drive Conscious Coaching and served as a measurement starting point.
Before the individual coaching processes could begin, each participant attended a 2-day ‘Way Forward’ workshop where each individual was introduced to the shape, state and style of a Conscious (or high performing) Company. This was to show the Transformation Team what we were striving to emulate.
Individual coaching sessions began immediately: 2 telephonic coaching sessions per month for each member of the transformation team over a year.
Telephone coaching has been chosen because more than 2000 previous participants of the programme agree the telephonic approach offers:
- Accessibility – participants say it is like having a coach in their pocket.
- Efficacy – telephone coaching goes far deeper because there are no spurious distractions such as body language to distract from the focus.
- Relevance – sessions are designed to fit around the challenges that arise from a participant’s day-to-day role, while also covering the main themes of a Conscious Company
- Measurement focus – 3 spaced review sessions with coach, manager and participant ensured that coaching objectives are set, reviewed and evaluated
The transformation team also participated in monthly team coaching sessions to focus on their role in leading the whole organisation towards the BHAG. These sessions were designed to inspire effective team working; ensure empowerment, accountability and responsibility was being replicated across the organisation as well as evaluate progress and create solutions to problems. The impact of this was felt across the organisation.
“There has been a big focus on objectives and measuring them. Previously there was little measurement, now it is done every week, month, day.” – Festo team members
“Team members are aware they are being held more accountable. Everything is benchmarked.” – Festo team members
As part of Festo’s commitment to establishing a coaching culture, we ran a 3-day workshop ‘Manager as Coach’ for all senior managers. This helped ensure that coaching became the leadership style of choice, and facilitated the spread of coaching through the organisation as each senior manager was tasked to conduct 1 individual coaching session for each of his or her direct reports.
“Now that I have realised the value of coaching vs. directive leadership, I have been attempting to apply those principles. It has had a huge impact on my team and results.” – Festo manager
“The level of contact the top guys have had with us has had a real impact. People have come to realise their importance, significance and impact.” – Festo team member
The change in leadership style also enabled people across the organisation to see that they could individually impact the greater whole too:
“At a branch level, people saw the impact they were having on the company. They met and achieved their results and now are more aware of their part in the process.” – Festo team member
The financial impact of the Conscious Coaching programme was considerable. Festo ZA exceeded their productivity goals and achieved 17.7% growth in sales over the previous year’s performance – in a market that saw an average 3% growth. In months 11 and 12 of Conscious Coaching, sales levels were among the highest ever recorded. And as the MD stated, “it is extraordinary that the sales figures were at this level 2 months in a row”.
When we analyse the results, we can see that at first Conscious Coaching led to an immediate jump in results. Then – as with all change initiatives – contradictions or obstacles to counter this progress emerged.
The coaching programmes empowered the Transformation Team to deal
calmly with each contradiction, explore its causes and plan a way forward. Persistence with this approach created a momentum all its own.
As Richard Teagle remarked: ‘in the final 2 months, the entire organisation joined the rush to the goal. By the final month, everyone took the baton and ran towards the finishing line’.
“There was a hunger and sense of urgency because the target has been so close. People did not want to miss it after a year of work.”
“Everything has been driven by the target, without it the change would not have happened…it has been a good thing as it has forced people out of their comfort zones.”
It became evident by the end, that Conscious Coaching now had a life far beyond the initial reach of the coaching programme.
To ensure that the Conscious Coaching continued to grow the organisation, the programme concluded with a 2-day workshop ‘From Leaders to Legends’. The purpose of this workshop was to raise the bar even further and enable managers to explore what it took to turn a leading organisation into a legend in its industry.
Brett Wallace who has now taken over as MD of Festo ZA comments on the on-going impact of the Programme a few years after its conclusion:
“This coaching program ran for an estimated twelve months in conjunction with the simultaneous coaching of all of the Branch managers. Facilitation was in the format of individual sessions with two “group sessions” in the final quarter. I believe the primary focus/benefit of the individual sessions was to focus on my personal development in creating results and making an impact on the organisation and within the industry.
The Conscious Coaching Programme was intentionally more organisationally orientated; each objective had a specific focus and reason, an association with and link to organisation impact and performance result. Typical performance result orientated probes focused on during the development process included “what will you do to change things/make a difference/have an impact? Why? How will you do this? How will you know if you have been successful? What impact will this have? What will this mean to you? Why is that important to you as a leader and to the organisation?
This coaching experience was most valuable and beneficial to me not only as an individual, but to the organisation as a whole. This was achieved by orienting the entire coaching programme around a ‘big hairy audacious goal’ that united, challenged and focused each individual and team.
The true impact and value of this approach was only felt toward the very end when the pressure was greatest and all stops were pulled in a final attempt to secure our target objective and the associated reward.
Following the coaching programme, when we realised what we could truly achieve, the challenge became not only setting new ambitious targets, but creating and maintaining a drive with sustainable pressure and energy to keep the focus and heightened levels of performance.
What a powerful and transformational experience.”