BP Case Study

Coaching at BP

As one of the world's largest energy companies, BP is a business that is constantly evolving.  And, with its business growing across the globe, BP has recognised that coaching is an important intervention to assist in the development of the capabilities of local workforces and help accelerate peoples' potential.

In 2004, the Organisational and Individual Learning (O&IL) team at BP recognised the need to design and formalise an approach to coaching that would work alongside the flexible nature of the organisation and its employees.  Many of BP's leaders had coaches and the company's leadership programmes included coaching but, on the whole, coaching tended to take place in an ad hoc and demand-led way.  This meant that the O&IL team as well as BP as an organisation had no clear way of monitoring the success of coaching, both for the individuals and the company.  They also had no way of measuring the return on its investment.

Under the leadership of Laure Le Douarec, learning advisor at BP, the team set out to:

  • create a preferred list of coaches within BP that had been agreed and vetted internally, to avoid hiring cowboy coaches
  • create a coaching framework in the form of website that leads people through a series of questions when considering coaching and to inform them about the BP way of coaching and how to source a BP preferred coach
  • establish an internal training programme for the  O&IL  within BP

By designing an internal programme for the O&IL team hoped to:

  • develop a common understanding of coaching within O&IL linked to the coaching framework
  • become more discerning purchasers of coaching
  • develop an internal coaching capability as part of the team's offer.  BP did not want to create a group of internal coaches but add coaching skills to the toolkit that the team already boasts; to apply their new coaching skills in the way they consulted with clients BP talked to a number of organisations that specialised in coaching

I-coach academy stood out from the rest because:

  • i-coach does not have just the one fit fits all model that they sell into all organisations
  • i-coach is flexible in its approach
  • i-coach has a strong values backbone which made it clear what the organisation stands for
  • the credibility of i-coach academy's masters programme and links with Middlesex University added gravitas and weight
  • i-coach sells an ethos and belief around coaching and if it does not fit with the clients philosophy and objectives, it will not take on the project simply for the financial reward

Having been selected, i-coach worked with the internal team to create a six-month coaching programme. This combined:

  • a three-day upfront input and theory session
  • practise trios, meeting between once a month to ever 6 months
  • practising with "live" clients
  • 1:1 coaching session with experienced coach
  • reflective assignments
  • work based projects which integrated coaching into existing/live projects consultants working on
  • continued professional development, to review case work, reflect and experiment based on individuals needs
  • a final presentation

Overall, the programme has been a resounding success because:

  • it has won support throughout the team
  • it has created a group of people who talk with a similar perspective on coaching yet retain their own style
  • it has increased the confidence in coaching 100% for those in the group
  • coaching has been snapped up by senior management as part of the senior management leadership programmes
  • it challenged the team on how it designs and delivers learning interventions
  • the whole team is applying coaching as a tool
  • the programme allowed individual participants keen for further education and accreditation in coaching to have their participation in the in-house programme recognised as part of their transition into i-coach academy's Masters in Professional Coaching programme

Said Joanna Yates, programme co-ordinator and attendee: Working with i-coach was a very positive experience. The commitment and flexibility that Caroline Horner showed throughout the programme was second to none.  She is clearly passionate about coaching and cares about delivering a professional solution that works. The programme was a success for BP and I believe that its success was down to Caroline and the 'i-coach' ethos".

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