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Steve Dhillon
May 8, 2018

Familiar, yet different: it’s all about the people

familiar people

I work as an Executive Coach and Change Agent across the public and private sector; taking individuals, teams and organisations from A to B, implementing change, reshaping behaviours, improving performance and cohesion, and challenging thinking.

The bizarre thing is that whatever management team I work with, in any business, their issues are both very different and remarkably similar. That sounds like a contradiction but it is not and let me tell you why.

I have just started coaching some of the senior management team, the leaders of an extensive ambulance service which covers several counties. I have to admit that I was wondering if I may be out of my depth. What do I know about saving lives and ambulance response times? But, of course, I am not meant to know how to run an ambulance service of 4000 staff, nor a fleet of ambulances, nor a large team of paramedics. I’m here to challenge the leaders and to examine their behaviours. I want to know what is blocking them, what they struggle with and how to overcome these obstacles. I get them over the hurdles.

I’ve found the themes which leaders are struggling with are universal: shareholders or owners, finance and performance, their team and how well or poorly that is functioning and of course what they want — the leader as an individual trying to meet his/her ambition or purpose. And, inevitably relationships within the organisation: working well or not working at all? This is why I love management and executive coaching: (two very different things) it is how these universal issues are played out in the workplace. I help my clients understand and interpret their roles, what needs fixing, discussion and change, what are they responsible for and how can they bring a better person to the team. How can they operate with integrity and honesty and create higher functioning teams which in turn generates a better operating organisation?

For instance, a senior director could not hold on to his staff, attrition was terrible, and the quality, morale and productivity were suffering. We knew the issue was ‘all about the client’ and how he needed to change his behaviour and interactions with his team radically; he worked hard, and in six months the situation was the complete opposite. Within the organisation, there is now a high level of retention, the team has grown, they are taking on a higher volume of work, his organisation is more accountable, and the director has the capacity to deliver growth into new areas.

I did not imagine that an ambulance service would feel so very familiar and that the leaders’ complex challenges were not quite as different as I thought they would be. I love learning how the world turns around and this was a big learning curve for me. Additionally, I love how clients flourish and seeing how they and their organisations can be better.

What business will be my next client?

Make it as familiar and difrent as an ambulance service, please.

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