WITHOUT RAPPORT, FEEDBACK IS JUST NOISE
Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada
By Terry Curry, VP Talent Development
FYidoctors is a Canadian provider of eye care products and optometric services. After beginning operations in 2008, FYidoctors now (late 2017) operates more than 250 optometry locations across Canada.
In 2012, FYidoctors rolled out a customer service program called Patient Pathways to allow each office to position itself strategically and focus its attention on meeting patient needs. This program has been phenomenally successful—and has been driven through focused coaching conversations.
Terry Curry began working at FYidoctors at company launch in 2008. He is the Vice President of Talent Development and supervises a team of Regional Coaches as well as practice coaches that work across the country.
I ran across Tom’s book in 1998, the year it was first published. When we wanted to implement a coaching culture in FYi, I shared it with the CEO and we both decided a coaching culture based on The Heart of Coaching (THOC) was what we wanted to create.
When we rolled out Patient Pathways, we knew that we needed to have champions in each location that would help drive the right behavior. We wanted to get away from a management style of telling people what to do and start using coaching to help drive change. We hired four Regional Coaches and in March 2013 we formally started with THOC by having the four Regional Coaches and myself be certified as facilitators.
Once we were certified to facilitate the workshop we started to roll THOC out to all of our senior and middle managers all across Canada.
By 2014, over 90 percent of the senior and middle managers had enrolled in and completed the two-day THOC workshop. We wanted to ensure that they continued to learn from each other, so in 2014 we introduced a weekly hour-long webinar, conducted by our internal facilitators, to reinforce core skills and introduce limited new materials.
In 2015, our team of facilitators was certified to conduct the advanced coaching skills workshop, which builds upon the core coaching skills. Together, this team delivers four full days of coaching skills content.
Every leader has been through THOC training to enable them to use the same communication approach day to day. Our intention has been to make this an ongoing, living, breathing communication process that stays top of mind. It was never approached as a training event—it’s an ongoing developmental process for the whole company.
The initial focus was working with the office leadership team composed of the doctor, managers and practice coach. We have stressed that our leaders should share what they have learned and continue to learn about the process of coaching. They have been encouraged from the very beginning to ask for feedback on how they are doing as a leader.
Introducing THOC required a significant cultural shift in thinking, belief systems, and the way people behaved toward one another.
The THOC methodology in creating high-performance coaching cultures means that feedback and coaching flows in all directions: leaders coach direct reports, direct reports coach one another, and direct reports coach leaders. Feedback and coaching flows up, down, and sideways. This is unique to THOC. It has been a challenge to enable people to coach up.
Another primary old culture dynamic that has been shifted by THOC is the unhealthy yet common practice of party A complaining to party B about party C. Leaders and teams at all levels are directly encouraged to approach the person with whom they have observed a behavioral challenge. They now have the ability and confidence to talk with the individual on what they have observed and how it has affected them, the team or the patients. Using the Transformational Roadmap, they then can ask questions, listen and develop an action plan that will make the person more successful.
- More leaders are asking for more feedback more of the time
- Leaders are responding in appropriate ways to the feedback they receive
- Employees are learning the organization is a safe environment to provide feedback with positive intentions
- Our business continues to expand and grow at least partially because of a more open culture
- We continue to expand our brand recognition and loyalty
If all leaders and team members alike became fully coachable, our performance would go through the roof. If everybody talked to each other, regardless of location or level, feedback would flow freely up, down, and across the organization.
People would be even more excited about waking up in the morning and going to work. We already have a great place to work, but this would make it even better.
Having people read a book versus to sending them to a workshop is a very different experience. What makes a difference is a leadership team (and ultimately all team members) committing to living the coaching process.
If you’re not continually coaching, then coaching is going to die a quick death.
The challenges we faced with our leaders have been largely overcome through these four years of working with THOC. It does not happen overnight. Our senior leaders have maintained a consistent focus on the importance of coaching. This message has been reinforced continually at all of our gatherings. You really can’t get away from the core message—coach and be coached.