A council has transformed its working culture by training employees to give coaching and therapy sessions to fellow colleagues.
Stoke City Council made the move after the decision was made by council leadership to completely change the practices of the organisation.
With more responsibility being levelled on local authorities with increasingly tighter budgets, it was decided to revolutionise the way the council functioned.
Rejecting a ‘business as usual’ mentality forced staff to change not only their working practices but also their thinking patterns and approach to council work.
Such was the nature and scale of the change, three years ago the organisation procured external specialist expertise to train staff to provide coaching, in the form of QualityCulture.co.uk.
Their role, to train a select group of ten staff in how to deliver coaching and therapy sessions for other colleagues.
Nine of those selected were trained to become coaches using Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques while one person was selected to be a Master Practitioner – a more advanced level of training.
Since the move more than 75 members of staff have received coaching from the network.
As a happy consequence, those off work due to anxiety and depression who received the coaching have returned to employment much sooner than expected
Manager Helen Dos Santos who trained as the council’s master practitioner, has transformed the lives of many employees since completing her training.
Working closely with the human resources team, she has helped those on long-term sick leave integrate back into to work force.
Helen said: “I know how difficult it can be to juggle a service when staff are ill for any length of time.
“One referral made to me was a lady who had been off work for five months with depression and who had been seeing a psychiatrist for the last two years.
“After speaking with her I got to the root cause of her depression, an attack she had experienced some years previously, which had left her feeling unworthy
“She came out the meeting immensely focused with even her own psychiatrist amazed at her progress she has made. This psychiatrist is now going to explore some NLP training himself to help other patients.
“With in five weeks of our first session that lady went back to work in a new job having taken longer hours.”
Ongoing changes at the council meant that in the spring of 2014, the decision was made to expand the coaching service with another 15 coaches being trained.
Mary Moran, strategic manager at Stoke-on-Trent city council commented: “We re-launched our expanded and refocused coaching service in the summer of 2014 we have seen an unprecedented demand for the service.
“Since I became involved more than 50 members of staff have received coaching and have all given very positive feedback.
“All our coaches continue to have a day job and yet their passion and enthusiasm for the service is clearly evident.
“The results achieved and the progress made by our coaches is rewarding to see and we are proud to be in a position to support staff at all levels of the organisation regardless of what they are wanting to achieve.”
Steve Kay, founder of QualityCulture.co.uk commented: “Organisations like Stoke-on-Trent city council need to create the right culture in order for their staff to thrive.
“Far too often, large numbers of staff off on long term sick can cause a downward spiral of negativity which can be very difficult to climb out of.However, with the right leadership training, managers can completely change their approach and empower their teams, creating an environment of trust where people can flourish, grow and take personal responsibility.
“To achieve a wider vision and individual goals, organisations need to create an environment of trust where people can flourish, grow and take personal responsibility.”