Tell us about your experience with coaching in your organization.
The University of British Columbia (UBC) has been investing in organizational coaching for more than two decades. The university introduced coaching as a talent and employment development and support modality in 2003: since then, it’s become an integral part of UBC’s culture and strategy and continues to be a catalyst for leadership development, employee engagement and creating high-value workplace experiences.
Coaching Services’ vision of integrating a robust coaching culture at UBC continues to be realized with a team and community of dedicated internal and external professional coaches through one-on-one, group, and custom coaching partnerships. UBC employees, including staff, managers, leaders and faculty members have access to work with any one of our talented and committed professional UBC Coaches. We deliver and track our organizational coaching engagements through our bespoke Coaching Services portal. It is intentionally designed to host 80+ pre-screened internal and external coaches that are trained and certified with professional credentials.
We continue to expand our impact across UBC by deliberately offering internal coach education through workshops and advanced skill development sessions and through our internationally renowned ICF-ACTP Certificate in Organizational Coaching. The collaborative efforts of UBC Human Resources and UBC Extended Learning contributed to an honorable mention by ICF Prism Award (2018) for our future-focused investments and commitments to organizational coaching across the institution.
What support would you and/or your organization find helpful to advance coaching?
We have been proactively engaging in conversations with those advancing coaching in their
own organizations – both locally via a small group affiliated with ICF Vancouver and
participating organizations with ICF’s new Coaching-in-Organizations program.
We are keen to share our own learnings and also to learn from others’ experiences in terms
of the policies and procedures they have for matching their staff with both internal and
external coaches, how they measure the impact of their coaching programs, the challenges
they have encountered when scaling coaching programs within their organizations and
what opportunities and challenges lie on the horizon. Our quest and curiosity are driven by asking, ‘what can coaching uniquely do to contribute to UBC’s vision and values for a better
What can organizations and coaches co-create together that allows beneficial value for everyone?
When coaching was first introduced to the organization, it was thanks to a small but mighty team of volunteer coaches who had personally witnessed coaching’s profound benefits and wanted to amplify its impact at UBC. Our Community of Coaches has since grown to include more than 80 internal and external coaches who have committed to providing third-party coaching hours to the university in exchange for joining our vibrant Community of Practice and complimentary professional development opportunities that we deliver as an ICF Continuing Coach Education provider. This exchange allows our coaches to count coaching hours provided to the organization as ‘paid’ as they pursue and maintain their professional credentials.
We work proactively with our coaches to determine their developmental goals and to create opportunities for them to contribute to custom coaching partnerships that are in alignment with their skills and interests including coaching for emerging and senior academic leaders. Recognizing that commitments and capacities for providing third party coaching hours shift over time, we’re committed to providing our coaches with agency and clarity over the ways they can contribute and to take on a case load that is accurate to their capacity.
What are organizations calling/asking for from coaching (or coaches)?
Coaching Services is committed to advancing the vision of UBC’s organizational coaching culture with a focus on the leadership development, career progression and health and wellbeing of all staff and faculty.
As we all continue to navigate challenges in our communities related to issues including the Covid-19 pandemic, racial injustice, truth and reconciliation for Indigenous peoples and climate change, Coaching Services has been increasingly called upon to provide support to wider university priorities. We’re committed to supporting our employees thrive as we all navigate the future of work and personal wellbeing and are currently working to deliver coach education and training as the UBC community continues to transition to a partial return to campus this fall. These professional development opportunities include workshops on how to bring coach-like behaviours to everyday conversations and supporting leaders to bring a coach approach to their learning and development conversations.
Coaching Services priorities and activities are routinely reviewed to ensure they contribute
in the attainment of UBC’s Strategic Plan (Shaping UBC’s Next Century) and Focus on
What do you find most valuable in having internal coaching in your organization?
Based on the feedback we receive from employees as well as stakeholders, there is an insatiable appetite for coach skills training that supports people to move towards a more fluent, integrated and confident approach in their communication and coaching competencies. After more than a decade of development and testing by UBC Coaching Services and UBC Extended Learning, the COEC Model has been launched to help faculty and staff have better conversations. COEC stands for Connect, Open, Explore and Close and is intended to enhance many types of workplace conversations, regardless of the topic or people involved. Another key benefit of UBC’s coaching services is that participants feel more confident to navigate changes in their personal and professional lives, they are better equipped to use their talents and strengths to contribute more fully to their department or unit, and they are building more effective working relationships.
Our vision of building a robust coaching culture at UBC continues to be realized with a team of dedicated and growing roster of internal professional coaches. UBC HR has made funding available to support employees across the institution pursue an ICF or EMCC accredited training program with the commitment that they influence and demonstrate coaching through how they perform their jobs, how they interact with others and through the coaching portal.
UBC Coaching Services acknowledge the incredible contributions, talents and partnerships with ICF Vancouver Chapters coaches and affiliates. To pull and tweak the famous quote by Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens (and coaches) can change the world (and organization): it’s the only thing that we ever had”