CV Issue 1 2018

10 CORPORATE VISION / Issue 1 2018 , Steve Ridgley is currentlyManager of Personal Learning and Growth at John Lewis Partnership. In January, he is venturing into pastures new by setting up his own business, idcoach. Steve provides us with his thoughts about his time at John Lewis, and howhe believes professional coaching can benefit companies inmore ways than youmight think. Quality Coaching Aspects At John Lewis, I am responsible for personal learning, people learning about themselves, and as part of this, have built a highly trained, professional internal cohort of 110 coaches working with employees at all levels of the business. The John Lewis Partnership has a written constitution and its first principle is “The happiness of its members through their worthwhile and satisfying employment in a successful business.” People are intrigued by this driving principle - an organisation focused on happiness, not market share, shareholder value or profit? The coaching, in the broadest sense, seeks to meet that first principle around happiness and has a whole person approach, aiming to support Partners being at their best, maximising their potential to progress; whether that is within the organisation or elsewhere. The coaches themselves have sixteen days of (Association for Coaching accredited) training over an 18-month period and are supported by supervisors, CPD programmes and activities to encourage a thriving community of practice. Furthermore, I have led a cross organisational initiative, branded Inside Out, to champion internal coaching. It brings together, each year, 50 internal coaches from organisations such as John Lewis, BBC, GSK, Deloitte, BA, Royal College of Nursing, Help for Heroes and Civil Service Learning. The coaches practice and learn from each other and come to understand how strategy and culture within different organisations shapes the coaching offer. It is now in its fourth year. Within the retail industry, there is transformational change and much market pressure, but it seems that life in general is becoming more stressful, whether someone is a leader, or simply trying to work to live and support the family. The 24/7 world, fuelled by the internet and social media, focuses human beings ever more on the expectation to be successful, beautiful, talented, liked. That, coupled with the ever changing nature of our modern world, adds endless pressure. Change or die in a business context, but increasingly in a personal, human way too. This presents our coaches with some challenging client work and suggests, to me, that society will continue to face a rise in mental health issues and societal breakdown as everyone struggles to adapt, survive and thrive. Personally, I believe we need to get back to people, to humanity; the more we can do to support people in life’s challenge, by giving the gift of attention, hearing their story, helping them to find their personal path and to be at their best, the more opportunity we create for individuals and the more value we can create for organisations. Products, systems, customers and infrastructure are all important, but it’s people who make a business. Coaching can help here. Coaching is about goals and outcomes true, but more than that, for me, coaching is a process of connection at a deeper level, the most human of levels – to be truly seen and heard by another human being for all your qualities, strengths and struggles remains for me a most precious gift as a client and a truly humbling experience and an incredible privilege as a coach. Coaching frees people to be more human, more themselves. Leaders sometimes forget (or hide) that they are human too; that they face uncertainty, vulnerability and fear, just like every human being. Possessing a wealth of experience at John Lewis and 1712CV45 in other aspects of my career, the time has come for me to follow my passion further. I am starting a new venture; a new business, known as idcoach. The aim is to build capability in the internal coach and to support organisations looking to have a more human way of conducting business, where individual employees are championed to maximise their potential. It may go beyond that, where the very nature of conversation within the organisation and with customers is changed. Some refer to this as a coaching culture. I strongly believe coaching needs to be professional, no less so when delivered internally. Also, I want to support businesses setting up a professional internal coaching practice. idcoach will focus initially on building capability in coaches through training, coaching supervision, mentoring and ongoing professional development. There is a lot of coach training out there, but most is targeted at setting up as an independent coach; consequently, potential insights and opportunities for the business can be overlooked, as can the real issue of boundaries, or how to be an effective supervisee inside the system. I worked in OD for years and believe in the hidden dynamics of people