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Research Case studies

Morrisons' Coaching for Performance


The Morrisons' Coaching for Performance grew out of a relationship between the company and our University at VC level in 2008-9, followed by engagement by within the Faculty of Business and Law and the Carnegie Faculty.

The programme is unique in that it seeks to integrate principles from sport, sport coaching and sport coaching systems into a company-wide process that is aimed at enhancing the way in which Morrisons manages and drives its business by getting the best out of its people. The Coaching for Performance programme is not simply based around a set of training experiences or modules, it is founded on the principle that coaching for performance demands a total systems approach where the results, components of performance and capabilities are explicit, aligned and consistent with Morrisons' traditional and evolving culture. The objective is to enhance performance within the business, while developing, engaging and empowering the staff.

The programme is delivered across the four divisions of the company and has reached over eight thousand employees in the 135,000 strong work force. With a strong impetus from the company’s HR Director, Norman Pickavance, the programme has begun to re-define the way in which the company manages performance at all levels. A common coaching vision has been set out, to support the aspiration of the company to become 'Different and Better than Ever' under recently appointed Chief Executive Dalton Philips. The coaching vision seeks the creation of an open mindset, a coherent coaching system that is customised to each division and coaching skills that are developed through courses and on-the-job application.

Since initial trial workshops in Spring 2010, the programme has accelerated to the point where Morrisons, Leeds Beckett University and the Morrisons-contracted external training company WDR have agreed to the development of a joint venture. The purpose of the joint venture is to channel all Coaching for Performance training through the Centre for Coaching Excellence, as well as to further develop and apply the programme for wider application on a commercial basis within the business and sporting sectors.

The programme has also drawn upon external expertise such as Matthew Syed, author and journalist, and has involved linkage with UK Sport, the International Council for Coach Education and pro coach cricket coaches from Yorkshire County Cricket Club. Through the programme, the appointment of a Senior Research Fellow to support the development of a global coaching framework has been initiated, with the result that cross domain transfer between sport and business will be maximised. In addition, the revenue from the programme has supported the development of a coaching innovations function within the Carnegie Faculty, again at Senior Research Fellow level.

A key issue to emerge has been the delivery challenges associated with the scale of the programme, with the need to identify suitable internal and external staff to deliver. In addition, the need to deepen the research components of the programme has been in evidence, notwithstanding the important formative role played by the initial research conducted by the Faculty of Business & Law on career pathways and coaching across the company.

The immediate future involves the extensive roll-out of Coaching for Performance across all four divisions of the company and the consolidation of the coaching system. This will be supported by on-going research and impact evaluation, as well as capacity building to underpin the sustainability of Coaching for Performance in the long term development of Morrisons. Work will continue on the evolution of the joint venture, through the working title of the Centre for Coaching Excellence.

Contact Patrick Duffy or Helen Whitrod-Brown for further information.

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