Home / Features / Not all academic

Not all academic

Carl Gregory, Sales Manager for the OCM Group and Charlotte Bruce-Foulds, Managing Director of OCM’s Coach-Mentoring, Training and Qualifications, explains why coaching can play a more effective role in people development than training

In the high-pressure world of facilities management, it is all too easy to place more emphasis on traditional training methods rather than taking a more creative approach. Usually when there are large numbers of support staff to train as well as high staff turnover it seems easier to resort to training en masse and a sheep dip approach.

Why? Because for most of us our experience of learning from an early age has been just that. We have been processed through a rigid academic structure attending subject-specific sessions. I’m not sure all of us enjoyed it but it’s what we became accustomed to and it’s largely how we still define people development today. No wonder then, that when we become business leaders and our staff need development, the knee-jerk reaction is to send them all on a course.

OK so it can be quick and get high numbers processed, but how much of that training actually sticks? Think about the last course you went on – how much of it did you remember? How much of it did you apply back at work? What was the first thing you did when placed under pressure? You guessed it – you reverted to what you originally did in the first place. It can also be very expensive and if staff leave, you have to do it all over again. But what if there was a way to make sure the learning was remembered, applied and created lasting change? And most importantly, what if that learning could be passed on to others – for free?

Where once, hardened industry professionals had a preference for structured courses in process-driven environments and cultures, they are now turning to coaching and mentoring solutions as the best way to secure tangible results. It is effective in these environments because it directly impacts upon the day-to-day business and creates the lasting changes required in the way people behave and perform. It’s far more effective, for example, if everyone in the organisation adopts Health & Safety as a “behaviour” rather than simply complying with regulations because they have to. That way you win both hearts and minds.

Another fundamental issue is that people’s definitions of what Coaching and Mentoring are can be very different and then the lines become blurred. So, let’s take a look at the key differences…

There are more similarities than differences between coaching and mentoring. The skills of listening, asking questions and giving feedback are essentially the same and both are conversations with a purpose.

As a mentor, you might be drawing on and sharing your own experiences/expertise when appropriate, with the focus usually on longer-term areas such as career progression and personal development. Often a mentoring relationship lasts for some considerable time with less frequent meetups than for coaching.

Coaching is more likely to be open and non-directive and tends to take up a shorter period of time, with more regular meetings. The focus is usually on specific development areas or issues at work, with the emphasis on the coachee having the answers and achieving their more immediate goals.

So, it’s really the roles and the context that are different, the skills required are the same.

We are currently working with a global facilities organisation in their UK & Ireland businesses to develop their coaching capabilities to drive engagement and high performance.

The organisation, with approximately 34,000 employees, wanted to achieve Silver level Investors in People status; increase their levels of employee engagement; and retain the best talent. Alongside this, they wanted to create and establish a coaching culture throughout the business. This was seen as a way of demonstrating the company values of delivering quality of life to clients and employees alike.

The first steps on the journey were to work in partnership with the client to develop a comprehensive programme to develop internal coaches. We trained a pool of coaches of both senior operational & HR professionals to provide developmental coaching to middle and first-line managers, identified through the appraisal process or transitioning to a more senior role. The success of this led to the development of further in-house training in ‘coaching as a leadership style’.

The results were extremely positive: 90 per cent of coaches agreed that “The coaching has made a positive difference” and “The coach-mentoring has directly resulted in business/organisational benefits”. Staff engagement increased by six per cent and the organisation achieved its coveted IIP Silver status.

There is now an increased demand for coaching and mentoring throughout the organisation and we are currently working intensively with another cohort. The company is looking to develop and roll-out coaching and learning mentor apprenticeships in the future, as it looks to further embed its “coaching culture”.


  • Set clear objectives / KPI’s for what you want to achieve.
  • Professionally train & develop your coaches/mentors.
  • Monitor the coaching and obtain regular feedback from the coaches and coachees alike.
  • Review the impact and ROI of your coach-mentoring strategy.
  • Create a Coaching Culture.


  • It’s less expensive than traditional training in the long run.
  • People learn continuously in the workplace, not just when they go on a course.
  • Learning is applied straightaway and sticks, rather than being forgotten when the pressure is on.
  • Can help reduce staff turnover, increase engagement and improve productivity.
  • Client satisfaction can improve as a result.


About Sarah OBeirne


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *