Developing a coaching culture in the Regenda Group
Over the past three years the Regenda Group has gone through a sustained period of transformational change, led by the CEO, Michael Birkett. Now sitting 7th in The Sunday Times Top 100 Not for Profit Organisations to Work for and pushing forward with an ambitious corporate strategy, the Liverpool based organisation is reaping the benefits of empowering its staff.
A forward thinking diverse business, the Regenda Group employs over 600 people, has assets of over £489m and a turnover of £62m. The organisation operates in a range of sectors, including social and affordable housing, PRS (Private Rented Sector) and apprenticeship training
In 2014, Michael Birkett joined the organisation as CEO, bringing with him a new focus and vision for a coaching culture in the group.
Michael said: “When I joined Regenda, I prioritised creating a new high performance leadership coaching programme was critical to any future success. If we didn’t invest in our people than the other areas of investment and significant change would fail.
“An organisation doesn’t transform, the people do. They are the ones that drive every day performance and so it is vital our people were engaged in what we knew we wanted to achieve.
“We made the decision to invest in a wide-ranging staff engagement programme to help determine a new vision and values moving forward, and also to take the leadership team through a transformational programme.”
In order to deliver the culture change, the Regenda Group partnered with Cascade Coaching and Training.
Ian Warren, Director of People Services at the Regenda Group, said: “Cascade brought a fresh perspective to Regenda and this was something we valued when looking for a provider.
“We didn’t want a typical, transactional leadership development programme that worked on behaviour change only. We wanted something that would shift mind-sets, release potential and truly engage our leaders through their values and purpose.”
Originally aimed at senior leaders, the programme was rolled out to include all managers in the business to maximise impact.
Georgia Parker, Director at Cascade, said: “We know from experience that working with managers throughout the business is what creates sufficient critical mass to make a difference in organisational culture. Just engaging the top team is not enough so with Regenda we broadened out the programme to include all managers and were delighted when they responded to this.
The programme launched in September 2015 with a half-day session, giving managers an introduction to the programme and the team at Cascade. This was followed with cross organisation team days, where staff were introduced to MBTI (Myers Briggs Types Indicators) which gave them an understanding about preferences and how people perceive the world around them. The aim was to help staff understand their personality traits and appreciate how others are different.
Over 80 managers are now working towards ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management) Level Three and Level Seven coaching qualifications. Once qualified, staff will be equipped to help colleagues maximise their potential and professional development.
Regenda also redesigned their approach to performance management based on the GROW coaching model. The approach enables staff to take control of their own development and address barriers to their own performance
Managers across the organisation attended a three day work shop on ‘Leading with Values and Purpose’ to help them better understand their role within the transformation of the organisation.
This is Cascade’s signature programme and is a journey to increase self-awareness, supporting each person to consider and understand their true motivation, priorities and mind sets in relation to their leadership. For many managers at Regenda, this element of the programme was the best leadership development they had experienced and was truly transformational for them in terms of renewing energy, liberating potential and creating powerful connections with their self and others.
Georgia Parker added: “Our approach is to provide an inclusive programme that is tailored appropriately for the most senior and most junior leaders.
“We work towards expanding self-awareness and emotional intelligence rather than teaching standardised skills and techniques, one-to-one coaching is a critical part of that transformation.
“Our workshops are based on information sourced from the organisation we are working with, allowing us to work on key business challenges not abstract theories.”
Michael Birkett said: “The partnership with Cascade has been fantastic in giving us an independent view of how we can transform our staff and engage them in our new strategy.
“By working on self-awareness and emotional intelligence our investment was more about our people than just the organisation.
Again supported by Cascade, the Regenda Group has developed the in house LEAD mentoring programme for future leaders across the business, pairing up employees with younger staff to help in their career and personal development.
Lucy Melkowski, LEAD programme manager, said: “The LEAD programme came about when a young manager developed an approach for younger employees to excel as leaders
“Mentors are matched based on what the employee wants to get out of the programme and everyone takes part, including executive directors.
“In addition, every year one LEAD mentee gets the opportunity to be mentored by Michael Birkett for six months.”
Thomas Moogan is a member of the customer services team at Regenda and is also engaged a LEAD mentee.
Thomas said: “The programme has really boosted by confidence and helped me approach problems within my role in different ways.
“I have far greater understanding of the wider sector and this has huge impact in the level of customer service I can provide.
“As part of the programme I have also spent some time with different teams, including our communications department, which has allowed me to develop a great understanding of how the whole organisation works.
Along with in-house mentoring, employees on the LEAD programme also get the opportunity to attend the CIH Young Leaders conference, as well as training sessions on networking and project management.
While the transformation is not yet fully complete, the impact the work has had across the business is already evident. In February, the Regenda Group was ranked 7th in The Times Top 100 Not for Profit Organisations to Work for, up from the 22nd in 2017.
The Times Best Companies research found that staff believed their managers were excellent role models, while there were significant increases in scores for employee wellbeing and fair deal.
Michael Birkett was also praised for his hands on approach, with staff saying they were inspired by him. As part of a new starter’s induction, Michael meets each member of staff at the start of their employment and after six months to check on their progress.
Following the success of the programme, the Regenda Group is now looking at developing in-housing coaching supervisors to help continue the development of senior managers.
Michael Birkett adds: “Through transforming the culture within the organisation, we have been able to embark on organisational change confident that everyone felt part of what we were trying to achieve.
“However, we know that we must continue to build and improve on this. We have some really big plans for the Regenda Group, including the continuation of our diversification into new sectors, achieved via company acquisitions, as well as significant investment in building homes across the North West.”