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Drama helps Grant Thornton develop internal coaches

Business and financial adviser Grant Thornton has trained 50 managers to become coaches. The managers will spend 20% of their time helping partners and other managers in the firm to further improve their people management skills.

Grant Thornton´s trainers worked with training company Steps Drama to deliver a three-day coaching and influencing skills programme to support the 50 individuals, who are called Staff Development Managers (SDMs).

Sue Cohen, senior training manager at Grant Thornton, said: "The training helps our SDMs to become excellent line managers and role models who can coach others to do their job better. Since our SDMs are geographically-spread, it also gives them a chance to network and to share experiences."

The first two days of the programme are delivered by Grant Thornton trainers and cover participant learning styles, personality profiles, coaching models, coaching practice, communication, influencing and giving feedback. The third day of the course is run by Steps, providing drama-based training.

Steps run four interactive scenarios in which they portray employees in a fictitious accountancy firm. These show a manager trying to convince a cynical colleague of the merits of coaching; a manager coaching a colleague after an ineffective appraisal session; a manager trying to convince a partner of the importance of people management skills and a manager who

needs to adapt their style to build rapport with a colleague. In each scenario, the actors portraying the characters turn to the audience for help and advice. The delegates contribute suggestions and then watch as the actors immediately work these back into the scenario.

"With Steps, it is as close to real as you can get," said Sue Cohen. "Their forum approach engages and challenges the delegates to discuss and debate their role and consider the best way forward in each scenario."

Sue Cohen says the training has helped to make the delegates more confident and more competent in their role as SDMs.

"When you have 50 busy managers, most of whom are direct fee-earners, spending 20 per cent of their time in an essential role, it is extremely important to develop and support them effectively," she said. "The feedback from this programme shows we are providing powerful training that results in memorable learning. As well as helping them improve as Staff Development Managers, the training gives them excellent personal development that also makes them more effective as line managers."

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