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Jodi Odell 2

by Jodi O’Dell. Report by Richard Taylor






Coaching should involve appropriate preparation for the session, searching for realistic outcomes during the session and building trust by using data obtained from benchmarked samples to provide meaningful feedback: it is about impact.  Too much coaching is about assigning labels to people and trying to change behaviour when there is little chance of achieving this, argued Dr. Jodi O’Dell of Engage Coach International.     What is needed is an assessment of the likely impact that the coaching process can achieve and then using as much evidence as can be amassed to deliver effective sessions.

The Model

The Cognitive Behavioural Model used as a basis for a coaching framework is as follows:

Thoughts and Beliefs

/                                                                       \
Actions                                                _                                              Feelings

It took 5 years to refine the models.  What is the mindset that coachees bring to an intervention like Coaching, or any type of Developmental Intervention.

Coaching presupposes that there will be Change, but are we ready for Change?  Who wants change?  We all acknowledge that it is inevitable.  However, who wants to change?   These questions are good examples of how tough it is in reality to initiate change, whether it be in thinking or in behaviours.

Optimising someone’s potential however requires change, but it also requires a psychological readiness for change.   Without this, the attempt to use coaching is almost certainly doomed to failure.

How is Engage different and why can it succeed where other coaching methods have been less successful?   In short, there is a distinct lack of evidence based coaching research and to date research has relied too heavily on anecdotal, qualitative methods.  Engage meets a research gap and offers an evidence based approach to coaching integrating both qualitative and quantitative data points. In summary Engage:

*          addresses the state of mind – it does not try to change a type or trait

*          can multiply the effect

*          measures “impact” and degree of shift

*          provides a clear methodology

“Engage” measures the degree of shift by measuring against benchmarks before and after a programme working to a clear methodology.  It works on the basis of a 10-15 mins online assessment.  Multiple reporting options are available making it more detailed that extrinsic models.

Confidence                                                                  Openness

\                                                                       /




It works on the basis of three interrelated constructs





Self belief



Self awareness

Interpersonal skills

Stay intention

Personal capability

Receptiveness Adaptability


Personal influence



External Awareness


An example of a practical application is a team leader who took the programme – the detailed methodology identified that she was emotionally committed to her team and her work but not the organisation she was working for.   This enabled a completely different conversation to emerge.

This example demonstrates that something unusual is happening in the algorithm: one aspect identified in one of the constructs can have different interaction effects in other constructs.  “Engage” enables a three dimensional approach to the observation of the impact of the programme.

NHS leadership academy used Engage as they were particularly interested in the quantitative approach which measured degree of shift during the coaching programme.  They found the evidence based perspective a very powerful way to monitor and measure progress.

Most engagement interventions are focused on extrinsic aspects  for example working conditions and salary.  These however do not measure the effect of intrinsic factors such internal drivers and self-perceptions, which have a significant impact on behavioural responses.

Adopting a scientific and robust methodology brings a degree of consistency?  How is the person helped made aware of what the coach is bringing

Creating Impact

The crucial point appears to relate to impact.  The beneficiary warms to the programme, avoids resistance and identifies with progress made.  In other words, they can be witness to the impact that the programme is having on their own personal development.  They can identify with the data which emerges on completion of the questionnaire and during the coaching sessions.

Another feature of the Engage process is that it utilises the fact that those involved like comparisons.  Benchmark comparisons help to highlight themes and areas of focus.  They have produced very positive feedback and encouraged further programme participation.  Organisations which have an open and unthreatening approach like to organise intervention workshops which have been highly successful.

Each individual is provided with a copy of their individual report – the individual owns their own data.


Dr. O’Dell then illustrated her presentation with some Case Studies from different industry sectors, including a Michelin Star Restaurant Chain, an engineering company and the health sector.  Areas requiring attention were compared with a “Norm” group and identified by a Red warning area.

In the case of the engineering company an interesting feature was the low level of emotional commitment demonstrated by graduates, showing a low level of engagement.  The organisation clearly needed to take urgent action to make itself more attractive not only to applicants but also to its own staff.

In the Health sector, Dr. O’Dell pointed out the need to analyse the data from a different standpoint in order to obtain consistent results.  The fewer levels of Red did not indicate satisfaction per se, but highlighted a longer term problem which is intrinsic levels of stress in the sector.

A strength of this approach to coaching is that the data can be analysed in different ways for different industry sectors and different “Norms” have been established for sectors making quantitative benchmarking a more straightforward process.

Who can be involved in the programme?

Anyone can “self-select”: there is no need for, for example, Level A and Level B

Programmes are run for individuals or open programmes can be run for groups of employees in an organisation.  Experience in providing feedback would be strongly recommended

The output data can reveal many interesting features of the operations of an organisation.   For example, if an organisation has disproportionately low levels of Personal Influence, this suggests people lack confidence to influence outcomes, (not to be confused with someone’s capability to influence).  A subtle, but significant difference, as this impacts decision making and a person’s willingness to take responsibility etc this starts the conversation and an act as the basis for interpreting the data obtained.

Sufficient time should be allowed for development following a programme and depending on the type of intervention this can be – e.g. as long as 9 months.  During this time frame, efforts should be made to develop areas of focus and if done so this intermediate period can make a useful contribution to the overall coaching programme.

It is found that especially in activities where there are high levels of stress it is essential to offer some support prior to the programme in order to obtain meaningful results which can be used as the basis for the coaching programme.

The coaching programme should have initial objectives.  A typical session would involve 6 coaching sessions over a period of 3 months.  This would be followed by a one month break and then further follow up sessions.  An Impact Report would then be produced, bringing together and highlighting qualitative vs qualitative information.

The tool is particularly useful at supporting self-awareness.  It can be used to create the opportunity to support a more effective personal journey.  The Wellbeing version of Engage has a specific focus on health and wellbeing and seeks to identify extrinsic and intrinsic sources of stress, such as Conflict, Relationship and Work issues.   This provides a holistic approach and supports a tailored approach towellbeing programmes.

A recent development is the “Virtual Coach Programme – a set of 3 Workbooks and webinars” – which provides development at scale and seeks to mimic the one/one coaching experience.  This is a practical process, aimed at strengthening self belief, combined with a supporting webinar.

A huge challenge is how to offer at scale a robust methodology. Cognitive behavioural therapy is an area which is part of the current wellbeing agenda and making the current product scalable and consistent is a major challenge.

Future development work will centre around enhancing the experience and the impact of the programme, making it more accessible and meaningful for participants but it will remain first and foremost an evidence based form of coaching.

Jodi’s slides from her presentation can be viewed here. 


02 October 2018

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