“The secret of change is to focus all energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
I meet Emanuele Mangiacotti, Head of Recruiting, Training and Human Capital Development at Wind Telecomunicazioni in the interlude of a seminar I am holding at the company. In the course of routine mutual updates, we happen to talk about coaching. I can hear Emanuel excited about his experience on this issue. Interested, I ask him to tell me more about it. I am a firm believer in the effectiveness of a coaching-oriented management style, and exchanging ideas with an engineer who has been involved in development and training with true passion for years is a rare and interesting opportunity. Insight is required.
Why did you introduce Coaching in Wind?
The story of how we introduced coaching to us is certainly peculiar. At one point I had a kind of vision. I identified coaching not as a goal per se, but as an important tool that our managers could use as leverage to move things around. We had a decidedly operations-oriented culture, a managerial positioning hinged primarily on doing. I felt that our managers needed something else … Here I became the interpreter of an unspoken need to evolve the management style of the house within the many changes that have taken place with us (including changes in top management and shareholders). I wanted to build a managerial architecture capable of holding up beyond the daily happenings. I’ve tried to think with an open head and a clear mind … in the medium to long term you have to pursue more far-reaching directions. I’m talking to you now about 2007, when the realization surfaced in me of a company really crushed onexecution, engaged in a challenging turnaround, with lots of tension on results and a terribly competitive market.
My insight was: to meet these deadly challenges, I absolutely must strengthen the individual in his managerial role! This was the need that was latently emerging from the organization: managers crushed by so many pressures, it was crucial to strengthen the skills of the individual manager, to grow the organizational culture, to intervene decisively with surgery that is not only cosmetic …
How did you go about raising awareness of coaching among your managers? Have they been receptive?
Let’s say there was a watershed at some point. It had been a few years since we had acquired coaching interventions, first associated with a Development Center, then combined with the development of some skills. The turning point happened when I decided to center an experience on myself. I certified myself as a Coach, to explore the potential of the method thoroughly and firsthand. It was there that the vision of how to proceed finally became clear to me: when I understood
me first, as a manager and as a business professional, how much a coaching-oriented approach transforms you. It was there that I realized how this change could be applied to the world of the organization, how powerful it could be as a lever for developing competence on the company’s Executives.
Was it difficult to promote it and get it adopted?
An awareness of the need to change style and behavior especially from a management perspective needed to be developed first. At this point I linked tactically to two elements: first, a campaign toward Excellence, promoted by the Head of the Company; second, a 360° feedback initiative, necessary to surface any gaps in managerial performance.
This was done in three simple steps aimed at managers: first, we provided each person with the 360° feedback report, second, we offered consultative assistance in reading and interpreting it, and as a third option, we offered to join real personal coaching initiatives. It should be noted that the report was absolutely private, not shared with anyone, and the subsequent joining of the coaching course was entirely voluntary. After this experience, not everyone embarked, but at least half of the people (who could choose from three formulas: Personal coaching, Remote tutoring coaching and Group coaching) went on. Quite a few signed up right away, and so, in a short time, the organizational conditions were created to ensure credibility for the initiative.
Downstream from this first group, many more managers joined, and after a little over a year we again proposed 360° feedback to ascertain the effectiveness of the actions taken.
In short, the reasoning was: after you have tested it on yourself, after you have verified in fact how powerful it is and proven how it can actually be improved, at this point I will provide you with training on Coaching Techniques, so as to reverse roles to managers and move them from coachees to coaches, toward their employees. I employed a coaching model that was strongly oriented toward performance development, clearly directed toward practical goals, with an approachable language that was entirely akin to business language. And it was amazing, the manager buys it! In short, without going into too much detail at the end 80% of our people applied the proposed techniques and continue to use the many tools provided … I recognize it when I see the traces they leave on the groups!
And what traces do they leave behind? In summary, what changes, how is it recognized?
Well, you can tell by the relationship they are able to establish, both with co-workers and colleagues … A certain way of behaving becomes an asset to the organization. Those who have really incorporated it into their experience become more in control on other fronts as well, when there is complex evaluation to be done, when it comes to values, … those who have the coaching baggage with them are much more ready, they are able to create more easily that unity of purpose so necessary in organizations today, they are quicker to bring employees on board with respect to change projects, they are able to really create engagement.
So managers use it!
I can make a strong case that Wind’s managers have also embraced theecoaching-oriented style, and this certainty comes to me from ongoing observation of new ways of bringing people on board with change. One example is the new way of directly involving all employees in jointly defining the meaning to be given to five new corporate values through an innovative social communication project.
In short, voluntariness, complete privacy, great confidence on the manager’s ability to choose. There is not so much need to convince …
It is my belief with respect to management development: Propose? Yes. Impose? Never!
If you want to capture people’s souls, it is the only way that works.
Anthropologist, Consultant & Coach