Our project will trial the use of the STAR(r) Manager programme in SMEs as a means to increase the adoption and effectiveness of Operational Coaching as a preferred management practice to drive team engagement and increase firm-level productivity and commercial performance.
'Coaching' is an acknowledged method for improving performance and productivity. However, as opposed to traditional coaching interventions that reach less than the top 5% of organisations (e.g. Executive Coaching programmes for senior managers), Operational Coaching focuses on enabling the other 95% of leaders and managers to adopt permanently into their everyday management style, a particular set of coaching-related behaviours that can be used frequently on the job, throughout the day.
A large number of corporate businesses have already incorporated Operational Coaching into their change journeys, where successful adoption has been proven to increase engagement and productivity levels as well as overall team performance. By first learning and then practising Operational Coaching skills, their leaders and managers have adapted their leadership and management style so that it's more 'enquiry-led' rather than directive ('command and control'). It's also used 'in the moment' at the point of maximum potential rather than being reserved for a later coaching session or performance review meeting.
Our trial will introduce these established Operational Coaching practices into SMEs by equipping managers and leaders with new skills. STAR(r) Manager is a novel, modular blended learning programme that can be pursued at times to suit individual learners. Developed in conjunction with LEO Learning (an internationally recognised leader in transformative learning), and designed from the ground up to be delivered at scale, the programme develops learners' knowledge of Operational Coaching practices and then challenges them to apply what they've learned in a series of pre-determined workplace missions, before then reflecting on their experience. In this way, learners generate new insights, which encourages gradual positive adjustments to their management and leadership behaviour including the greater use of 'enquiry'.
The SME firms to be targeted as part of this Randomised Control Trial will have between 50-250 FTEs, be spread geographically across the West midelands Combined Authority area and be drawn from a range of industries. The total number of SMEs to be sampled will be 150, each providing 10 individual participants. Participating firms will be randomised and allocated to the intervention or control group. The sample size has been chosen to balance a sufficiently large sample size for detecting the expected change difference against the likelihood of being able to recruit sufficient SMEs to participate.
The lead applicant is Notion Limited, a specialist in the field established in 2000 with a client base including Sainsbury's, Morgan Stanley and Royal Mail. Notion will manage the project and deliver the intervention to the randomised selection of SMEs. Notion's corporate website is www.BusinessCoaching.co.uk and the website for the STAR(r) Manager programme (this intervention) is www.STARmanager.global Notion will be assisted by Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership who will be a funded partner in the project. As an organisation that provides support for regional SMEs, CWLEP will provide Notion with access to over 50,000 SMEs throughout the wider WMCA region across a range of industries. CWLEP have agreed to act as the SME recruitment partner for firms to participate in the Trial. CWLEP's website is www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk.
The independent evaluation partner for this project will be the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), a leading research university, whose evaluation work will be funded. LSE's website is www.lse.ac.uk.
The impacts of the trial will be measured in a number of different ways, both qualitative and quantitative. All participants (including the control group) will be surveyed before and after the programme. This survey will establish the proportion of their working day they spend 'coaching', their 'coaching' skills levels, commercial successes derived from using a 'coaching approach' and well-being and engagement. Other quantitative measures will be gathered at firm level, such as turnover. Costing data for the delivery of the intervention will be brought together with the outcome data to measure the commercial value of the intervention.