If becoming agile learning organisations is the key to unlocking an organisation’s ability to thrive I thought it timely to ask a group of mining sector leaders to comment on the following – What are the biggest opportunities for coaching in mining, resources from an individual, team and organisational perspective?

Here’s what they said…

Let’s start with Bob – GM Infrastructure & Logistics, Top 10 Mining Company

“I think the big thing for me was that it is about, understanding your strengths and weaknesses, understanding that at this stage in your life you will never eradicate your weaknesses but what you can do, is to work on / manage your weaknesses but not at the expense of your strengths….

In a lot of ways like an ore-body in mining, it will have it’s strengths and weakness, but to make it perform you have to mine to the bodies strengths, while managing its weaknesses but with-out over managing……over engineering otherwise it just won’t be economic….

The other thing coaching brought to me was to back myself, fight the battles you know you can win and those you can’t try and change the direction / strategy through massaging peoples thoughts and opinions…..The coaching also emphasised that leadership it’s about backing your people, giving them the confidence to make the decisions but at the same time to understand to know when you must be consulted /informed, but most importantly, you must have the hard conversations quickly and be very prepared for them and then follow up on those conversations. Again these conversations should be directional not dictatorial.

I know my confidence of dealing with people at higher levels is stronger than it has ever been, I also know when to speak, when to cough and when to shut up!!!!

In hind sight, I wish I had received coaching earlier in my career as I think I would have been a stronger person for it, that said I think when I look for my next role I have to choose the right type of people and company to work with.”

And what about Jim -Executive GM, Mining Top 10 Mining Company?

So, what has been the impact of coaching on me been personally? God I don’t know where to start:

  1. Assisted in better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses and their impact (positive and negative) on my own performance and that of my team;
  2. Reaffirming and encouragement to maximise the use of my leadership strengths for improved work outcomes;
  3. Reflecting on and recapping work situations, particularly those with less than favourable outcomes, and to develop strategies for improvement when similar situations occur in the future;
  4. Bringing ‘coaching science’ and experience to coaching discussions
  5. Provides a “time out” to consider and reflect on how actions and reactions have contributed to outcomes and what can be improved;
  6. Recognising cues for when my own behaviours are shaping the direction of the team / business area;

What about coaching with teams?

  • Combination of personal and team coaching has allowed a greater understanding of personality types and styles and an insight into how we are seen by others;
  •  Importantly, what this means for team dynamics and providing space for contribution by all team members;
  • Targeted coaching for improvement in key areas – e.g. coaching in crucial conversations to provide skills for dealing with conflict and opposing views;
  • Structured program bringing about the resolution of conflict between peer groups;
  • Coaching through facilitation of leadership teams to bring about operational readiness for workplace change; for example, expansion planning;
  • Team building through adversity. Re-establishing workforce trust through a dramatic workforce redundancy event. Coaching provided the vehicle for regained credibility of the business area leadership.

What’s HR’s view in all of this? Let’s hear from the Head Human Resources, Top 10 Mining Company

“One of the things we did at X over the past couple of years is implement a multi-level leadership program. There were two distinct differences to many other programs I have been involved in during my career: first the program is underpinned by leader led learning, so our leadership team needed to understand the material well enough to credibly present it to their teams; and second, the outcomes were connected to our productivity agenda. Ultimately we showed that we could change the language in the organisation as well as capability in leaders in 12 months. Our people were talking about the shadow they cast as leaders, the smell of the place etc. The connection to mining is this: we are reducing our consultant spend at a time when our commodities are at a low point in the cycle, we are growing the relationship (and credibility) between our leaders and their people (sometimes breaking the nexus with unions or other third parties), we’re empowering front line leaders to solve problems that they have not been able to in the past.

Coaching though is the glue, whether undertaken by internal consultants (like my org capability team) or external providers, it provides line leaders with the confidence to not only deliver the material, but the follow up required with their teams to help them negotiate the course. And it flows into all areas of the business with positive production outcomes and positive safety outcomes, all because there is a greater level of communication and undertaken in a more coaching way (i.e. teach don’t tell).

Most often, I have used coaches as a reward for good employees with potential, to help them grow (i.e. not everyone get’s an executive coach!, something to be proud of). In this context, the impact on the individual can be quite significant and drive greater discretionary effort, coupled with greater impact and effectiveness – a leveraging effect. I’ve had less success where there is a key deficiency and the individual didn’t “take” to coaching (you know who I’m talking about – mind you I gave a preso in Melbourne last week which included a fist-pump yeah! to add some oxygen to the room – stop laughing Vanessa!). “

Here’s another view from a General Manager, Top 10 Mining Company

There’s a brawl going on out there. Price for our products are at the bottom of the commodity cycle at present with some commodity groups going through industrial shifts which will never see them adjust to previous levels.

For us to survive we must respond differently to how we have been before, this takes leadership to present themselves differently to the work force. Coaching is one enabler for this. As an example, old conventions which have yielded results acceptable in the past no longer are good enough, leadership must be able to connect better and extract more value out of our current people resource in order to stay competitive.

As a leader – coaching helped me become aware of myself, self-awareness is often underrated as one of the most powerful attribute an authentic leader can possess. Having someone independent who can give you direct feedback on your style, then work with you on how this comes across to your audience was the most valuable outcome of my coaching experience. Coaching taught me how to listen to those who I interact with, not just in the obvious way, but listen to how people react through body language, mannerisms, silence, eye contact and verbal communications. Once I learnt how to really listen, my leadership style changed drastically. I became the authentic leader who I am today.

Coaching can assist teams in developing an understanding of the personalities and value set of the individual team members. Once people in a team really understand where the other members of the team are operating from, the team can really harness the value of diversity. Coaching also help individuals and teams be honest with themselves on the blindspots of the team, often good teams are hindered by their own success; to achieve break though, teams must be open enough to challenge themselves that what is working now may not be the recipe for success into the future.

Coaching empowers organisations to explore the unknown, only by doing this, will the potential value of the organization be realized. Amazing talent exists within every organisation, however its culture stops this from surfacing. Coaching will assist an organisation to learn how to listen to where such creativity exists.”

And if you aren’t convinced about how much of an impact great coaching and mentoring can make let’s hear from a COO Top 10 Mining Company

What’s the Impact of coaching from my point of view on individuals?

“Firstly, let me make the comment that this not just coaching, there is also a degree of mentoring involved and I’ll refer to this alter on under the effect / opportunities for corporate. It is not recognised that this aspect enables a willing protégé to bounce things off a coach totally unthreatened and receive feedback. The coach may not be technical in a mining game which has its technicalities in each disciplinal area but other aspects of confidence – both talking in confidence and obtain the confidence to say things in the right way – (although we need to be careful not being too politically correct in my view) – is invaluable. In the same vein a mentor in the management and technical aspects in today’s environment of fast upward mobility is necessary…

Coaching helped me to recognise the following:

1.     Made aware of the affects I have on people

a.     Tone of the message I use in portraying it

b.     The language / grammar used

2.     The way in which the message is relayed

a.     I need to be less directive – better choice of wording

b.     The use of a different approach to get buy in / understanding from the audience

3.     Learnt to read the signs of how you react to different inputs from third party /parties – both negatively or positively – and then how to regulate these to enable a more constructive approach to both the relaying and receipt of messages. This enables a more deliberate and thought through process… before reacting.

In terms of how individual people reacted to these changes

1.     More willing to put all the issues on the table and not just the good things

2.     A degree of we can talk to this guy.. I have always been able to get the best out people in these one on one situations but the use of better phrasing and messaging certainly helped enhance relationships”

What’s the Impact of coaching on how teams reacted to these changes?

1.     “Much the same – the use of non-confronting messaging in the team environment – although I don’t think this is a forum to tackle people negatively in any event – and imparting the coaching lessons I learnt constructively gave team members the opportunity to feel that it was the solutions and the way ahead that was the objective not the person focus so to speak… more galvanising to work together to solve issues. In an Australian context of we’re all the same this is of major benefit.

2.     People started using this approach in their own areas… more move ahead outcomes – less individual uncertainty – growing confidence.

3.     People saw a considered approach to the handling of good and not so good areas of performance. Gave confidence that all matters could be expressed clearly and confidently. Gave some less confident individuals the opportunity and certainty to ‘go for it”

Finally I asked the mother of all questions? What’s the impact of coaching on the mining industry?

“If the whole company leadership is receiving the same message its good… or if there are big potential people that need a few rough edges smoothed than its great and transformational… of issue is that the smaller and mid-tier companies do not follow through over the necessary longer periods of time needed to embed these behaviours and changes into the system. Too many of these companies are evolving – systems, practices, culture and are often trying to do too many of things at the same time and there is an initiative overload and people don’t make the time for these things. The culture change process is one that takes years. With staff turnover in boom times then the traction grips and then slips… in the tougher economic times these are often the first initiatives to go…

The concern is that for the industry the cause and effect of decisions, people management etc. are often not learnt as people move on too quickly either up the ladder or to other companies in order to get ahead. Coaching helps to fill a very important gap in the makeup of current and future leaders…”

If you would like more information on how to give your people practical coaching skills contact us about our program ELEVATE- designed to equip people across all levels of your organisation with the skills to be great coaches, better people leaders and build agile learning organisations across levels. Don’t pay a fortune to go to theoretical programs that go for weeks, call us and find out how to get upskilled, build internal coaching capability and leave competitor organisations in the dust. Our program is also suitable for human resource professionals, small business owners and educators.

You can email us-hello@reinventionconsulting.com.au

Leave a Reply