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Coaching supervision can highlight elements for real change

Interview with Jo Searle, October 2018 By Lita Currie
Coaching can be tremendously valuable to individuals and organisations. It is arguably one of the best ways in which employees can make sustainable changes at an individual and organisational level.

A lot of coaching currently happens at individual level – even in big organisations. It usually focuses on the relationships that the individual has, which is of course valuable, but it sometimes misses out on picking up systemic issues pertaining to the whole organisation. It is tricky for an individual coach coaching one or two people in an organisation, to see trends and themes that could pertain to the whole company.

Jo Searle, a coach, supervisor and psychotherapist, highlights the value that supervision can have in identifying these meta-trends and being able to influence positive change. The systemic impact in organisations is very strong and will impact or limit the changes that an individual can make.

Here’s an example: most organisations espouse the value of integrity and honesty, right? There are beautiful posters on the walls and mousepads on the desks illustrating these values. But, deep down, employees might believe that they can get away with murder and that colleagues and leadership only pay lip service to truthfulness. Imagine if you, as the Chief Learning Officer or Chief People Officer can have access to the real stuff that your employees believe or struggle with! Now we’re talking being able to bring real change to bear.

If the organisation has access to a group of coaches who can share their insights in order to highlight systemic issues, that could be hugely valuable to organisations. Jo suggests that organisations arrange for an external supervisor (not internal!) to assist coaches to identify these themes. In this safe space, the coaches can share what they are experiencing through coaching and identify the themes that are true for the organisation. This, in turn, can then be shared with the leadership of the organisation and included in change interventions. Most interventions are designed at a team level, limiting the impact it can have. With these meta-data available to us we can design and implement interventions at a truly systemic level, which would have a much greater positive impact on the organisation.

So, here’s what to do:

  1. As a coach, educate your clients about the value of supervision at this level, and encourage them to integrate coaches at a systemic level through supervision;
  2. As a CPO/CLO, create a safe space for coaches and supervisors to share their insights, and be open and willing to listen what they have to say.

Listen to the interview…

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