Be Your Own Case Study
Not long ago, a potential client asked me for examples of how coaching has radically impacted the businesses EZRA works with.
I could have talked about all kinds of companies – Coca Cola, Spotify, AstraZeneca, to name a few. But something that day made me pause and take a different approach.
I’d just seen the results of our latest employee engagement survey, which, like many companies, we run every quarter to see how we’re doing as a business and how happy our team are.
The numbers were impressive – 9.1 out of ten, putting us in the top 10% of employee engagement globally. But figures aren’t everything, and it was the comments from team members that really made me think.
Despite EZRA growing over 350% over the last year, despite our newly global team having to deal with lockdowns and different ways of working, and despite all the politics I’d been warned would come with scaling up, people were happy. Really happy.
Comments included people saying they ‘absolutely love our culture’, that they feel ‘trusted and supported’ and that EZRA is a ‘warm and inclusive place to work’.
And was I surprised? Not in the slightest. Which is exactly the point.
A team of individuals
One of the main things that sets EZRA apart, is that our senior leadership team has the time – and permission – to be thoughtful.
I don’t just mean having a calendar of birthdays. I mean getting to know each person, whatever their job title or level of seniority. Celebrating each team member’s achievements, even if they’re not the kind to shout about it. And understanding what individuals are going through at home, and what they’re bringing to work.
This might seem separate to coaching, and in many ways it is.
But at the core of this culture, and underlying all the surface-level Zoom quizzes and get-togethers we’ve put on over the last year, is the fact that every single person at EZRA has a coach from the day they start.
We’re all free to use our coaches as much, or as little, as we like. They can act as a sounding board for ideas, offering clarity and helping us overcome challenges. They can help keep us on track, making sure we’re all working towards the same EZRA values. And they can provide an easy and quick way to get stuff off our chests that need not escalate any further.
Fundamentally, though, having a coach helps us all feel that we matter as people.
By talking to someone regularly, we’re being allowed to focus on ourselves – what we want, what we need and what we’re aiming for – which is crucial if we’re going to be able to work successfully as a team.
Unlocking potential to achieve high performance
So which came first, the coaching or the culture? And surely you can have a happy team without paying for everyone to talk to someone regularly?
Well, maybe. But in our experience, the two are inextricably linked. It’s not just ‘soft’ benefits, like employee happiness, that we’ve seen as a result of this approach, either. (Although, arguably, what could be more important than wellbeing after the last few years?)
Recently, we’ve had people start in junior roles, and then be promoted to managing a team within months. In a period known as ‘The Great Resignation’, our retention rates are soaring. And, with behaviours trickling down from the top, we’ve seen our clients getting a better service from our team as a result too.
In some ways, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Our business is all about coaching, so obviously we’re going to be good at it. Except, we’re very similar to lots of other organisations – same challenges, same bumps in the road, same potential for people to get pissed off and leave.
The difference is, we’ve learnt from the cobbler’s children, and from the not-so-thoughtful companies we’ve all worked for in the past.
We don’t think focusing on our own wellbeing is a waste of time, whether that’s coaching sessions, employee awards or a cocktail-making class.
We don’t think people should leave their personalities at the door when they come to work.
And we’re proud to use ourselves as a living, breathing case study for the benefits of caring about each person beyond their job title.