Putting Learning into Practice

I am currently half way through my Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a specialization in Leadership in Organizational Culture at Royal Roads University. As part of my Masters I had previously completed the Leadership and Strategic HR Management graduate certificates at Royal Roads.  The Graduate Certificate in Strategic Human Resources Management (GCSHRM) consisted of three courses; Human Resources in Organizational Development – co-creating the learning organization, Leading Organizational Change, and Coaching for Leadership. Previously completing the Leadership Studies certificate, it was apparent to me that there was an alignment between coaching and leadership. I started to have a deeper understanding of the importance and value of creating a coaching culture and the potential it can have on the entire organization.

As part of the GCSHRM, I had to write a final paper which was a proposal that brought my learning together from all three courses which resulted in my final paper which was a proposal titled “Coaching Community of Practice at BCcampus” which introduced a peer coaching community of practice at BCcampus, which is where I am currently employed.

Why a Coaching Community of Practice at BCcampus?

I knew my proposal would have a coaching focus with a goal to create a learning organization, but after some reflection on what I valued the most from my learning, and how those values aligned with the values at BCcampus it was apparent that a coaching community of practice has the potential to make a real difference in the work we do. With most of us working at least part of the week remotely and many located in different cities, creating a community of practice provides an opportunity for us to learn a new skill together and connect with people that we wouldn’t necessarily work with due to our different roles. Through learning coaching skills, people will develop a deeper awareness of their assumptions, develop a reflective practice, with more of a focus on inquiry shifting the way they show up in conversations.  Furthermore, through coaching people to achieve goals, it helps people see their own potential as leaders.  There is no better feeling as a coach than seeing the excitement on someone’s face after reaching a goal that they had set out for themselves.

As part of the peer review for the proposal it was recommended that you ask your employer to review and provide feedback. Our Executive Director, Mary Burgess was kind enough to take the time to review my paper and provide feedback, but more importantly and much to my complete excitement, she was 1000% into implementing a Coaching Community of Practice at BCcampus. It turns out this concept was something that had been on her radar to implement at BCcampus for a few years but didn’t have the time to sort out how to move forward with the idea.

Here I was with not only a full proposal supported by research, but complete with an implementation and communication plan, employee orientation package, and toolkit ready to go. There were many considerations to take into account with the implementation of a coaching community of practice in an organization, as part of my process in writing my proposal I had done a SWOT analysis identifying all the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; confidentiality was one of the risks I had identified but with all participants creating their own Code of Ethics, I feel this risk has been addressed.

After I submitted my proposal as part of my program, I continued to work with Mary and the management team at BCcampus to make sure they not only supported this initiative, but more importantly to get feedback on my proposal to see if there were any adjustments needed. Mary set up a meeting for us to meet with Tammy Dewar, to get her feedback on the idea as well as some help to develop good survey questions that we would ask participants before and after each coaching round to measure whether the culture was shifting and to see if people were developing new skills and a coaching mindset through participating.

On October 30th I presented my idea to the entire BCcampus team at our Fall retreat, using my orientation PowerPoint and toolkit I had originally created as part of my proposal. Directly following Mary and I did some fishbowl coaching sessions so people could see how the GROW model works, which is the coaching model I am recommending for us to start with based on my learning from the Coaching for Leadership course. The past few weeks I have been working through the implementation and communication plan for our first round of coaching; from the invite to participate which included a survey to reflect on their current coaching mindset and skills, to developing their Code of Ethics, and this week participants were notified of their first coaching team assignments, which was done randomly, to allow for an equal opportunity for everyone.

It is really hard to describe how it feels that a proposal I wrote is being implemented at our organization, other than it makes my heart want explore and that feels AMAZING!! I feel privileged to work for an organization that values a coaching culture and encourages their employees to develop new skills that they can use in all aspects of life. It is too early to really know how this will go but can’t help but think of the possible impact this can have, not just on our organization, but how by shifting the way we show up can impact others we work with in post-secondary institutions across BC.

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