IA's coaching program helps an industry leader become the employer of choice.
PricewaterhouseCoopers provides industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services to build public trust and enhance value for its clients and their stakeholders. More than 130,000 people in 148 countries work collaboratively using "Connected Thinking" to develop fresh perspectives and practical advice for PwC clients. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP is the US member firm of the PricewaterhouseCoopers network.
In the U.S., PwC was ranked among the Top 10 companies for working mothers in 2005 by Working Mother magazine, and was also named by Working Mother Magazine one of the Best Places to Work for both working mothers and women of color in 2006 and 2007. In addition, the firm is a 2007 Catalyst Award Winner, and appears on the Fortune List of 100 Best Companies to work for in 2005, 2006, and 2007, Interaction Associates spoke with Kym Ward Gaffney, U.S. Director, Coaching and Connectivity of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, about PwC's commitment to the development of its people and, in particular, to developing and operationalizing a coaching culture across the US Firm.
Interaction Associates: Tell us about coaching at PwC.
KYM: PwC has a longstanding commitment to coaching as a business imperative. As a firm, we are committed to professional development. We focused on coaching for three reasons: we are committed to bringing the best available talent to our clients; our people tell us that on-the-job training is one of their most valuable experiences; and because of internal metrics from our Pulse Survey. In the Pulse Survey, we asked our staff members the question, "Do people devote sufficient time to your coaching and development?" Though our scores were solid, they were not as high as we'd like, and they had remained stagnant over time. So we felt we needed to put a concerted, focused effort on developing a consistent coaching message and approach for our staff.
Interaction Associates: So you believe that coaching results in more satisfied employees and better retention?
KYM: We enjoy a great deal of generational diversity inside our firm. We have a good number of millenials in the workplace. When you look at what motivates them, and what makes them feel they are adding value, you find that the answer is, "feedback." The newer generation wants feedback; they want to know someone cares about them. Many of these have developed a personal brand: they've selected and attended the best schools and gotten involved in the right extracurricular activities. If they are to share their brand with PricewaterhouseCoopers, they want to know they are valued.
Any firm will enjoy a competitive advantage from creating a teaching culture. It's an advantage from a recruiting as well as a retention perspective. We are distinguishing ourselves in the market because of our reputation. We invest in our people's development, and that's a big part of the PwC brand.
Interaction Associates: Tell us about where you are in developing your coaching culture.
KYM: Our strategy is three-pronged. Number One is learning and education. Number Two is our communications campaign. Number Three is putting in place appropriate measures and rewards.
First, we must develop an HR and firm-wide coaching curriculum. Traditionally, the majority of our HR staff was involved in transactional services, such as deployment of staff on engagements, compensation, and performance management. We are repositioning our HR professionals as credentialed coaches. They will become members of the team on client engagements, offering expert advice, conflict resolution, and help to provide strategic development of our staff, as a valued resource to the engagement.
We are also looking at how to embed our coaching strategy into our technical skill development strategy. There are a number of essential technical courses — audits, tax, etc. Coaching will be an important component of this curriculum, too.
In order to have strong impact, we need to refer to the elements of our coaching conversation in a consistent way. So we are developing a comprehensive communications campaign to have all of us speaking from the same page.
Finally, how will we measure our coaching culture? Coaching is not just a "nice-to-have." We want to move the needle on that Pulse Survey so that people feel they are being developed. And as key leaders and coaches set the tone for coaching excellence inside the firm — we want to reward them.
Interaction Associates: How has IA been of help in this endeavor?
KYM: We had a team of IA facilitators attend our regional HR conferences. Almost 1000 people were introduced to IA and the core skills of coaching. Our staff and leaders had an opportunity to discover, assess, and practice the content. As they practiced the coaching skills, they were just uncomfortable enough to know they didn't know how to do this quite yet. While people may know they need to give feedback, they don't always know the most effective way to give it. We have worked with IA facilitators to tailor the EDGE model to make it unique and effective for PwC.
In our organization, there is a natural hierarchy that goes from associate to partner. We want everyone, no matter what their role, to be responsible for seeking coaching and for giving feedback. We want to coach across differences, including race, gender, hierarchical, and generational.
We developed work plans. It gives us a structure to assess what stakeholders we need to involve, and the results we want to achieve. Harvey Kaufman has helped drive the process and keep it on track.
Interaction Associates: What's next in the process?
KYM: Our plan calls for us to develop a firmwide coaching curriculum, the HR curriculum, and the communications plan, using focus groups and an external marketing firm to make it successful. We have a few processes we already use to acknowledge coaching within the firm, one of which is our prestigious Chairman's Award, which among other criteria, recognizes outstanding coaching by our staff members.
Interaction Associates: How do you feel about leading this project?
KYM: My father was a football coach, so coaching has always been in my blood. I grew up in an environment where someone gave you feedback right away! I am a certified ICF coach, and I started with the firm in 1996. Ten years ago, we didn't have a strategy like this to break down barriers.
We are creating coachable moments. We will have informal as well as formal coaching. We want people to recognize they've been coached. We want them to realize: "This is feedback for me to act on; this is development for me". Sometimes people don't recognize the feedback is there for their benefit.
I'm really proud that the firm has decided to go this route. It's a structured, disciplined and formalized approach. It says a lot about the commitment of our firm's leadership team to developing our people. At PwC we want our people to develop to their absolute full potential. And whether they stay with us for just a short time, or for their entire career, we want them to always view their experience with the firm as having been a challenging place where they constantly learned more. I'm excited about it!
To learn more about PricewaterhouseCoopers, please visit the firm's website.