What is coaching and how might it help me?

Coaching is a personalised development experience, in this case for HR Directors, which can deliver enhanced knowledge, improved performance and insight, and lasting change. It creates a supportive environment that develops critical thinking skills, ideas, and behaviours about a topic/issue specific to you. Coaching takes place in real time, in a one-to-one situation with a coach who has been personally selected by you, taking into account your own personal learning style and specific needs at the time. 


What can you expect?

You can expect:


How to select a coach

Good luck with your coaching. For any further advice, or if you can suggest a coach who has worked with you or colleagues at executive level, please feel free to contact:



Pamela Flynn, Chief People Officer, Manchester Metropolitan University

A few years ago, I was invited to join the Rising Stars programme, a network of female directors, executives and professionals from a range of different organisations across the northwest region.

 It was initiated by the North West Business Leadership team, with the aim of nurturing female talent and addressing gender inequality in the workplace. I was supported and empowered during the programme through inspirational speakers and networking opportunities.

I was also assigned a coach/mentor, who is a Managing Director in another industry and who worked with me regularly to achieve my career goals and strongly supported and challenged me to go for and achieve promotion.

I was experiencing a sense of imposter syndrome and my confidence levels were not where they should have been. Coaching and mentoring really helped to change my thinking, to motivate me and instil a greater sense of self-belief and the courage to strive for my goals and overcome my fears.

Coaching and mentoring can provide the space and time to share your goals and to identify opportunities and help to shape a different way of thinking or options to overcome obstacles.

When it unlocks a different thought patterns, as it did in my case, it can have a long lasting, positive impact for leadership and personal impact.


Juliet Amos, Director of Human Resources, Teesside University

I have had the benefit of a coach at two key stages of my HR career and each time my coach used various techniques to help me to think through my approach to a new role and more clearly articulate the challenges and opportunities I was facing. My coaches have certainly encouraged me to reflect on my own practice at work particularly when I was internally promoted and needed to think carefully about where to focus my energies. Coaching can be very beneficial but you need to be prepared to put time and effort into making it work for you.



Mark Adderley, Director at Adderley Ltd and former Director of HR at Herriot Watt University

I first came across coaching as technique some 20 years ago, and after being persuaded of its value and impact in the years after first becoming an HR director, I started to offer coaching to the senior leaders in my own organisation.  My coach helped me to challenge myself to push the boundaries of my role, increasing my own capability and delivering higher levels of more integrated change across the organisation. My coach also helped me to reflect better and deeper on my learning which had a profound impact on my subsequent roles.

When I had the opportunity to train, and accredit as a coach, I took it, and started coaching internally, changing my relationship with my team, my fellow directors, my boss and even the University Vice Chancellor/Principal.  I took this into my own practice where as a coach I now work with a wide variety of senior leaders in HR, Professional Services and academics up to and including Principals.  Coaching can radically change lives, improving performance, changing culture, improving work life balance, communication skills or even changing roles.

Coaching applies the simple principles of asking great questions that challenge, support and encourage the coachee, and most challenges or issues are ones that you can work with a coach to progress for example

  • Leading strategic change
  • Building a new team
  • Handing difficult conversations
  • Prioritisation and work life balance
  • Taking on new roles
  • Career development


360 Degree Feedback

360 degree feedback involves gathering or comparing feedback on an individuals leadership practice, from others who are above them, alongside them and in less senior roles in their organisation (sometimes externally).

Often the process is based around a relatively straight forward questionnaire: one version (self rating) that the manager completes themselves and another version (others ratings) that is distributed to colleagues at different levels in the organisation.

The anonymous results are then compared and differences in perceptions between the individuals self ratings and the ratings given by others is used to inform development conversations and activities. The process can also be a skilled exec-level coach who telephones / meets the key colleagues and gathers the feedback face to face.  The summarised feedback is then collated and shared face to face with the manager.

The manager selects their own colleagues and asks their permission to be sent questionnaires / be interviewed.  Confidentiality is paramount and all feedback is themed and anonymous.

The power of 360 degree feedback is that it offers the manager a ‘reality check’ and if done twice over a period of time can allow an individual to monitor changing perceptions over time.  In an era when the emotional and relational aspects of leadership are often regarded as important self knowledge is the single most important factor in the practice of leadership.

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