It’s game on for coaching

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It’s said that when planets align, things come together in a positive way. Theo Anderson, general manager of organisational development in People and Global Capability (P&GC), believes the timing was similarly auspicious for coaching to become a leadership imperative. 

Coaching is integral to performance excellence and higher-performing teams being developed at Woodside. So the company is formalising a strategy to integrate various coaching activities across the business. In Operations, for example, Roland Hamp was appointed as general manager Production high performance coaching in Q3 2016. Roland has been working with Mary Matthews, learning and development senior adviser, and a working group to help make coaching an important part of Production. 

Reservoir Management and Drilling and Completions have been on similar journeys and rolled out coaching in recent years. “Coaching is fundamental to continuous improvement,” says Theo. Senior management also recognised that sustainable improved performance required a step-change in the organisation. Finding solutions for today’s challenges and taking advantage of opportunities requires a different leadership style than was previously successful. 

“The idea is that as the Company grows, so too should its leadership team and their approach,” Theo explains. “So the Company has seized the opportunity to build on all this aggregate enthusiasm. “The timing was right and planets aligned.” In the future, successful companies will be more collaborative. Coaching will help people to become more enabled and better exercise their potential in this “new world”. 

Coaching is a leadership skill that facilitates the acceleration of both the performance and development of staff. Improved performance involves enabling people to be more effective in their current roles. Coaching facilitates their development over time by helping them achieve new competencies. Mary says data collected by P&GC over the past 10 years illustrates that we needed to enhance our leaders’ coaching skills to enable our people. “This will lead to enhanced and sustained performance,” she says.

“Coaching is one of the most important leadership styles we need our leaders to demonstrate.” Roland adds: “We recognise we are on an improvement journey and have achieved a lot already with the leadership styles we have at Woodside. “But if we want to go further we’ll need to adjust and adapt those leadership styles to enable us to get to the next level. 

“Leadership style is moving away from directive and pace-setting – from a command-control and rigid hierarchy to something more fluid where relationships are less hierarchical and collaborative and ultimately transformational.” Although a few external coaches have been commissioned to support the process, it is considered that the best coaching experience is an internal journey steered and supported by in-house coaches and leaders. 

With this in mind, a structure has been established under a steering group which includes, among others, senior vice president Production Jeroen Buren and senior vice president Performance Excellence Hendrik Snyman. P&GC has already built the first part of a “leaders as coaches” training program. The second part is underway, together with other tools such as short videos to help spread the message. And Woodside coaching champions have been appointed throughout Production to support implementation.

“Instead of training people and leaving them to their own devices, they’re going to get support from our leaders,” says Roland. The first two coaching champions appointed were production excellence champions Marc Senders and Shannon Byers, and others have followed. Hendrik is supporting the program as the coaching champions will also be rolling out Performance Excellence (PE) tools because he sees a synergy between coaching and PE. 

“Engaging people in a coaching manner enables and empowers them to see the problem and solution for themselves, which creates ownership and empowerment,” he says. “I am always amazed at how far people can go if you believe in them and clear the way for them.”  


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Trunkline Q2 2017​​