Becky Ivers has been instrumental in promoting and formalising coaching at Safeway Stores. Simon Kent checks out how she did it
Passion and enthusiasm have always been key to the delivery of effective training and development within organisations. However, there are occasions when theory and 'the next big thing' can get in the way of this basic requirement. It is refreshing, therefore to meet Rebecca Ivers, corporate learning and development manager at Safeway Stores. Over the past three years, she has played a key role in formalising coaching initiatives across Safeway. She is working together with her team and others to reach a position where coaching is a way of life for Safeway, integrated into the duties of managers and constantly improving the performance of all employees.
Ivers has remained passionate about the technique throughout the process of encouraging coaching, ensuring it is used to enhance the performance of the individual and through them, the organisation. "Coaching builds confidence, gives courage, and helps individual creativity," she says, "All these elements are important to Safeway. Coaching can be painful sometimes, but it helps people to understand how to grow and find answers within themselves."
Coaching has always had a part to play within Safeway. Five years ago, as a management development manager, Ivers was responsible for providing career coaching to store managers and senior operations staff. When the benefits became clear three years ago, Safeway decided to widen the use of coaching. Working with consultancy company Lane 4, it introduced a programme with coaching at its heart which would address the leadership skills of the top 125 employees in the company: "Participants learnt about coaching and how important it was to the role of being a leader," explains Ivers. "They formed coaching groups of three or four people who would link up with a coach from Lane 4 and coach each other through various scenarios"
Meanwhile operations and store staff in other parts of the company realised the benefits of coaching. "There was a waterfall effect," notes Ivers. "People saw what was happening and wanted to bring it into their part of the company."
Employees in support roles were encouraged to find ways of winning improved performance through coaching, rather than follow traditional management approaches of i