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Operations Improvement Coaching
Developed in the Oil & Gas industry to help their offshore installations increase the number of hours a day that they drilled, Performance Coaching has been shown to be to the most effective way to improve operational performance in virtually any environment, since it is based on principles that are universal. It leads to a direct impact on profitability, often with a Return on Investment of 5:1, or more.
’Getting more from the same, or the same from less’
Due to the pressures of the modern workplace, people seldom take the time to step back, consider what they do and how they do it, and ask if it is still the best way, or even the right thing to do. As a result of the global down-turn, the external environment has changed dramatically, so it has never been more critical that business leaders ensure that their companies are operating efficiently and are agile enough to cope with whatever the future may bring; it might even be the difference between sustained business success, and failure. While there is understandable risk-aversion, it should be remembered that ‘doing the same thing today as I did yesterday’, may actually carry a greater risk than doing something different!
One of the things we do is to work with individuals and groups to discover where their ‘pain’ lies, what they think can be done to alleviate that ‘pain’, and then help them to execute their solutions in such a way that next time they can do it themselves. In short we help to improve performance in a way that leads directly to a sustainable improvement in profitability, and an embedded capability.
Whilst there is clearly a cost associated with Performance Coaching, experience shows that far from being a cost simply to be written off, Performance Coaching adds value in a way that means it can genuinely be regarded as an investment. This is partly due to the fact that Performance Coaching helps reduce ‘Non-Productive Time’ and ‘Invisible Lost Time’, and partly because Performance Coaching concentrates on Outputs rather than Inputs. In most cases an accurate value can put on the amount of e improvement, making it relatively easy to discover the Return on Investment.
The ‘Principles’ of Performance Improvement Coaching
How do we know that a good job is being done? What is being measured? With whom is this information being shared? What performance related discussions are being had?
Does everyone know what they need to do for the company to be successful...?
Do people actually know what their job is? What exactly are they Accountable and Responsible for? Is there a consistent understanding amongst all those with whom they work? Are people held accountable for the work they do?
Are teams working effectively together such that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole? Are Processes well defined and do all those involved know what is expected of them? Are we communicating effectively?
Why don’t people always do what is required? How can we make this more likely? What motivates those who work for us? What influence does the leader have?
Do we plan effectively for regular events? Do we review past actions and learn the lessons? Do we find that the same issues arise time after time, leading to rework and inefficiency, or are we really getting better each time?
The ‘principles’ are universal and ‘non-technical’, so can be used to bring about performance improvement in any environment. The skill of the coach is to help those in the organisation to apply these Principles to the daily work that people in the businesses do, in a way that makes sense and adds value to them. In addition there are benefits of not having sector/ industry experience; the coach can ask the ‘stupid’ questions that those in the industry often do not, and they can also bring other perspectives. Unlike traditional ‘consulting’, the Coach is not there to tell people what to do, but to draw out the ideas and capabilities of the existing team. We concentrate on practical execution rather than theoretical strategies and plans.
Coaching is the most effect way to change behaviours, since it is based on 1-1 relationships. Coaching, combined with group facilitation, and in some cases instruction, draws out ideas and solutions from the existing team, and helps them to execute more effectively. Again unlike ‘consulting’ it allows for the passing on of tools and understandings that will help those in the client company to self-generate continuous improvement on an on-going basis, even after the coach is no longer there. Performance Coaches help others to look at the three elements of any business, People, Process and Technology, and to challenge the assumptions.
The focus is always on what the company is trying to achieve, which usually means maximising profitability, and ensuring that everything is contributing to the achievement of this goal. Part of Performance Coaching is therefore to help bring about a situation where everyone within the company, or business unit, knows what their contribution to this goal is, what they are accountable for and how best they can contribute to it. With this understanding also comes motivation.
Depending on the environment, it is carried out by one person, who becomes part of the existing client team, working with them full time. However they do not become part of the ‘hierarchy’. They do not take over anyone else’s job, but use their skill, experience and character to help those within the company to bring about improvement.
Accountabilities and the drive for improvement remain with the company employees. The driving force is therefore ‘local’ and internal, not external. The Coach is simply a catalyst. Individuals and teams are assisted in addressing the issues that they feel most need addressing. It can be used to tackle all aspects of a business.
Performance Improvement Coaching has a direct impact on operations, and these improvements lead directly to an increase in profitability. While improvements realised are sustainable, many of them are achievable in the short term.
Because client personnel initiate and execute the improvements, Performance Improvement Coaching leaves behind an embedded capability, which means that, unlike traditional consulting, continuous improvement remains, even after the coaching engagement. There is never a bad time to ‘get more from the same, or the same from less’, particularly when the Return on Investment is usually so significant. In a recent engagement with De Beers Marine Namibia the ROI was >10:1