In search of peak performance in coaching


Google regards coaching as fundamental to the successful running of their business. Their own internal coaching and Organisational Development team provide coaching services for leaders and managers across the company, helping them operate at peak performance. To ensure consistent and high quality coaching processes, Google turned to Hult Ashridge for a tailored Supervision (Super-Vision) program for their coaching teams.

Client: Google

Sector: Internet, software, technology, A.I and advertising

Overview: Tailored coaching supervision program for internal executive coaches

The Challenge

Stephanie Conway, OD Partner EMEA, recognised that a strong focus on supervision would help to raise the bar on coaching and the OD practice and give internal practitioners the additional credibility they needed to make a real impact.

A cohort of tenured and experienced internal coaches across EMEA and the US were identified as candidates who would be developed to become Google’s internal coaching and OD supervisors.

The Solution

Supervision at Google is defined as a form of professional consultation. It is ultimately about learning from/on the job. It is a reflective forum that provides a helicopter view on coaching and OD practice (Super-Vision). The supervisor can be seen as a resource and support with the intent to support their learning and to maintain quality standards in practice. Ashridge was chosen because of its global footprint, quality of faculty, reputation in the industry and its willingness to work closely with Google to develop a tailored programme that would land well within the company’s culture.

Bill Critchley, a leading organisational consultant and an EMCC accredited coach/mentor supervisor, has developed a pilot programme, which comprised of two residential workshops, combined with monthly virtual supervisory sessions. The initial group, a mix of internal coaches and OD practitioners, have just completed their first year, and are working towards accreditation in 2020.

Bill Critchley

The programme is centred around an action inquiry approach. We are inquiring together, exploring our differences and learning together. The virtual workshops are an important part of the process because it is allowing us to work with people on their practice on an on-going basis. It brings continuity to the process and allows myself and the team to model supervision for the group.

Bill Critchley

Stephanie Conway

This has supported collective learning and sense-making and is helping the individual, the group and the wider OD practice within Google.

Stephanie Conway

Stephanie says the impact of the programme is already being felt and the feedback from those taking part has been strong and indicated an increase in practitioner’s confidence and capability.

Delegates have described it as a rich learning experience which has equipped them with ideas and techniques they can immediately apply to their practice. “I am so appreciative of what we were able to do together in experimenting, taking risks, being vulnerable and honest and learning,” said one coach.

“The learning people are doing is highly reflective; it goes to a deep level and is helping us put a lens on our work and make sense of everything that is going on around us. Everyone feels it is helping them become a better coach and OD practitioner,” adds Stephanie.

One of the key elements of the programme is the building of trust and creation of a safe space where participants feel they can talk openly about the issues that are arising from their coaching and OD practice.

The Impact

Google has also appreciated the wide pool of facilitators working on the programme. “As the programme has progressed, Ashridge has brought in different faculty who have a variety of perspectives but who are all able to co-exist together,” says Stephanie. “Diversity and inclusion is an important factor within the culture at Google, and by bringing in a diverse set of faculty Ashridge is role-modelling this.”

Bill Critchley believes the partnership approach Google and Ashridge have taken to developing and implementing the programme has been fundamental to its success. “We have a very good working relationship and I think this is crucial to why this programme has been so impactful,” he said.

Going forward, Google is planning to extend the programme to its wider coaching and HR community. “We are at the beginning of an exciting journey and are looking forward to continuing the partnership,” says Stephanie.

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