The Northern Coaching Networks is the network for Internal Coaches.
The annual NCN Spring Conference took place recently – a hugely successful event that was attended by over 80 Internal Coaches from over 30 organisations all based across the Northern Powerhouse of England.
The founders of the NCN, Catherine Boddington and Suzanna Prout, took some time out to explain what the NCN is all about.
Of course…the NCN is the network for internal coaches that are employed in organisations in the North. It has a clear purpose: to connect coaches across the region, creating a place to collaborate, solve problems and develop their coaching cultures together. By doing this we help to create brilliant places to work and build careers. We continue to make the North a great place to live and work whilst adding to the Northern economy!
buy Pregabalin without prescription That is an ambitious vision! How is it going to be achieved?
The NCN is a membership network of coaches and leaders who see the value in sharing insight and best practice when developing and embedding coaching cultures. NCN is an enabler. Our job is to get everyone together, but it is the coaches themselves that make the NCN what it is.
Catherine – can you tell me a bit about your background?
I’ve been a coach for over twenty years now, and I have seen the impact of good coaching across a number of organisations. Coaching is integral to growth, change and innovation in the corporate and public sectors. It is a very practical and human way to support groups or individuals in how they solve problems and build plans for their future. It is transformational when done well, and it is something that I believe is going to play an increasingly essential role in the future of organisational culture.
Can you talk about when you have seen coaching have a transformational effect on a business?
I worked at Sky Betting & Gaming as their Lead Coach and Head of Talent and Organisational Development, as they scaled the business from start up to a mid-sized successful organisation. Their challenge – and this is where coaching came in – was to support their managers by giving them the practical skills and support they needed to run their teams in this period of rapid growth. They wanted to keep the dynamic culture of innovation, creativity and autonomy and help managers to have good conversations with their teams. The conversations were often tough for managers and they needed a way of handling daily conversations on development, performance, and problem solving.
The key was developing a coaching culture. We did this though training all managers in coaching skills, by developing over 20 internal coaches and by using a brilliant pool of external coaches. The combination of all three was to have a coaching culture that was embedded and accessible to everyone.
The approach was grounded in treating people with respect, supporting them through the changes they were experiencing and making sure that honest and fair conversations can take place. A positive intent and focus on wellbeing was always at its core.
Suzanna – where did Xenonex fit into this?
Xenonex were introduced to help develop the coaching strategy and management development programme. As MD of Xenonex, I worked really closely with Catherine to deliver the development programme for managers and coaching our senior leaders.
As a result of the SBG project and working so closely with Catherine, Northern Coaching Network was born. People asked if we would share how we created a coaching culture at Sky Betting & Gaming so we invited coaches from the region to get together and it’s grown from there. Catherine and I continue to work closely as Co-Founders of NCN and we’re really proud of what we have built.
Why do you think coaching is so important these days?
The world of work has changed massively over the past few years, and of course more rapidly through the impact of the pandemic. Autonomous working and the need to connect with individuals, playing to their strengths and helping them achieve their potential is an aspiration most managers now have.
It sounds easy, but, being a good manager it can be tough. You can’t do it without knowing how to coach. Organisations are now investing more in internal coaching capability as they see the positive impact coaching can have. People want autonomy, interesting careers and to be part of something they believe in. They want to treated as individuals with unique skills and talents and this is the way leaders will have the most productive teams. Coaching is key!
So, moving on to the NCN 2021 Spring conference, it had ‘wellbeing’ as one of its key strands – can you elaborate on this and the other strands please?
There were three themes: Wellbeing, balance and connection. These three themes are all linked and were developed as a direct result of feedback from our steering group members given the challenges they were facing in their roles.
NCN events are all created in response to solving real problems our members have, this keeps things relevant and valuable. We know that coaches need to be ‘well’ to do their work effectively. We also know that wellbeing has been a topic that most coaches have needed to support their clients with recently. Without wellbeing, both physical and mental, getting through the next few months will be increasingly hard. We decided to include it as a cornerstone of the conference. When we had the opportunity to hear from Jamie Peacock, former England Rugby League captain, on his practical insights on wellbeing we were delighted. He ran a really inspiring session giving tips on sleep, mindset, influence, confidence, nutrition and exercise.
Much of what he talks about is common sense but we all need to be reminded of the simple habits we can build and it’s backed up by sound neuroscientific theory.
Neuroscience? Tell me more!
When you’re a coach you need to protect your own wellbeing. Being well makes sure we are able to support clients properly by engaging our rational brain rather than our emotional brain. When we do this we think clearly, empathise and problem solve effectively with our clients. We can’t do this if we are not well (physically & mentally). We also need to feel safe – managing anxiety or threats to our wellbeing and survival.
The strand of the conference, ‘Connect’, is also linked. Humans are hard-wired to connect. Evolution has meant that without connection, we cannot survive in a state of wellbeing. We connect more effectively when we feel safe. And since we all have a neuro-system that is constantly scanning for threats, we need to create a supportive social support system with others who can come together to solve common challenges. Again, this helps our rational brain to calm our emotional brain so we can think clearly and creatively.
The theme of ‘Balance’ explored the concept of balanced leadership. The theory brings out the importance of leaders maintaining an optimal balance, focusing their teams on what they deliver (action and results) but also how this is delivered (through people). Without focussing on balance, teams can become unproductive and disengaged. Leading teams through the pandemic has been tough and having a way of coaching leaders to maintain this balance is important. It will also be important over the coming months as we work our way out of the pandemic.
It is, but just another comment on connection. NCN meetings are about real connection…not just adding token people to your network. We have worked hard to set the tone for the events we host. People feel they can talk openly, sharing challenges. They know they can do this with a diverse group of people who have a collective endeavour of promoting a coaching culture and helping each other learn. It is why we say NCN is the network for internal coaches.
The NCN sounds very hands-on…is this right?
Absolutely, our events are not an exercise in management theory! We understand there needs to be theory and rigour, but this is not the NCN’s rationale. Instead, we stick to simple solutions with practical insights that people can take back to their organisation and use. Good conversations and candid insights are the key.
What themes will the NCN be tackling in the next few months?
The big one is the return to work. We know that the role of the internal coach is going to be vital as organisations prepare to return to work. We are going to be working with over twenty employers to get their heads around what their role is in supporting people and organisations through this transition.
Xenonex are also about to launch a set of coaching resources within their Coachbox offer that are specifically targeted at return to work. They provide practical tools for coaches and managers to use. Our goal is to help NCN members feel confident and prepared in the work they are going to do over the coming months. We want to the be the network for internal coaches.
How do I get on board?
You can join the NCN here https://xenonex.co.uk/networks-events-for-coaches/northern-coaching-network/register-for-northern-coaching-network/
Or, you can phone Xenonex on 01423 546162, or email us at email@example.com
The Northern Coaching Network is the network for internal coaches and is ready to help you right now. We have numerous resources that will make you a better coach:
Coach practice sessions
Access to exclusive Coachbox resources
Annual conference report
Links to all key conference speakers
Coaching CPD sessions throughout the year
Coaching Data and best practice papers
Links to the Northern Talent Exchange
Exclusive What’s App group for coaches