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Creating a Coaching Culture at Deloitte

Creating a Coaching Culture at Deloitte

Tom DeclercqManaging Partner at Deloitte and one of our Directors, describe the drivers and context for embedding a coaching culture in Deloitte Belgium, as well as the selected approach and results after two years.

Do you need a Coaching Culture?

Deloitte is the largest professional services firm in Belgium. Despite a challenging global economic context and amid changes relating to the regulation of the financial sector, it has maintained a dominant position. Deloitte puts quality relationships at the heart of their work. Coaching firm Gordon Cooper Associates were invited to assist in developing and implementing their coaching culture strategy to support the development of staff-client relationships and the continuous development of motivated and talented people as a mirror to their commitment to long-term quality relationships with their clients.

In their Annual Report 2012 Deloitte CEO, Rik Vanpeteghem reiterated this strategic priority:

"This last year we made significant progress in our objective of embedding a coaching culture in our organisation. This provides a framework for every "Deloitter" to achieve his or her potential while delivering their very best for clients, the firm and themselves. Coaching is also key to addressing the talent challenges of the future.  With an increasing need for flexibility, the 'one size fits all' approach no longer applies. We believe it is crucial to understand what drives each individual, so that careers are customised by aligning personal ambition with firm strategy".

The Selected Approach

By choosing a 'top down' approach with board, business unit leaders and the wider partner group enlisting in personal coaching programmes, the firm sent a strong signal to staff about their commitment to their people.  They also attended a "Leader as Coach" skill-building programme.    This method reflects the following recommendations of Clutterbuck and Megginson (2005):

  1. Coaching is linked to business drivers
  2. Being a coachee is encouraged and supported
  3. The provision of coach training
  4. Coaching is rewarded and recognised
  5. A systemic approach is applied
  6. The move to coaching is managed

With these recommendations in mind, a variety of interventions took place including:

  • The case for coaching was made via focus groups and one-to-one meetings.
  • The goal was set to create an embedded coaching culture as defined by Clutterbuck and Megginson (2005): 'Coaching is the predominant style of working together and where a commitment to grow the organisation is embedded in a parallel commitment to grow the people within the organisation'.
  • A communication strategy was developed including a series of videos explaining the benefits of coaching and sharing success stories.
  • A programme for new graduates explained how to be a coachee and how to drive your own career.
  • A "Leader as Coach" programme was launched to understand the necessary roles, responsibilities and behaviours. Participants attended a graduate ceremony and received a "Leader as Coach" certificate.
  • An internal website was developed to share knowledge and create an internal coaching community
  • Senior partners were identified as internal coaches.
  • A feedback tool was developed to identify personal coaching competences
  • A new role as "Head of Coaching" was created and a Coaching Steering Committee led by the CEO was formed to drive the strategic initiative.

The Results so Far

Two years following the launch, Deloitte conducted a People Survey to assess the impact of the strategy and were pleased with the level of ROI (Return on Investment) shown in the results, which highlighted a strong appetite now to be coached and a significant improvement in the skill levels of leaders doing the coaching. It also highlighted the need to embed coaching behaviours further so they become part of the predominant leadership style.  The lessons learned form the main focus for the further embedding of coaching behaviours and are ourrecommendations for those aiming to embed coaching within their organisation:

  • Consult and reflect regularly with key stakeholders on progress being made. Be prepared to adapt your approach.
  • Build senior role models with high priority coaching roles into your plans early on.
  • Build coaching skills while holding leaders accountable for honing and using a coaching style. This can be done, for instance, using individual KPI's.
  • Use external coaches where deeper or different coaching skill or experience is needed or a different perspective is valued.
  • Provide supervision for coaches to reflect and learn from their experiences

Tom Declercq is Managing Partner Global Employer Services, Global Employer Services
EMEA Regional Leader and Managing Partner Talent at Deloitte Belgium
Tom Declercq is in charge of the development of talent strategy and the execution of the talent agenda. His responsibilities are concentrated on retaining and developing the Deloitte Belgium talent pool, consisting of 2800 employees, and attracting 600+ new colleagues on a yearly basis. The Deloitte talent strategy is concentrated around building a coaching culture throughout all layers of the organization, developing a strong employer value proposition and communicating this within Deloitte and outside, focused on three differentiators: flexibility, diversity and global careers. The talent strategy is also critical in continuously building the capacity among the Deloitte professionals to deliver services to the benefit of our clients in an innovative and integrated way.  The talent strategy and agenda are instrumental in realizing Deloitte’s talent vision of becoming the number 1 destination for top talent. He is a member of the Deloitte Belgian Executive Committee.

Next to his Talent role, Tom Declercq has been Managing Partner of the Belgian Global Employer Services Practice since 2005 and GES EMEA Regional Leader since 2011. He has partner responsibility for a number of international companies with expatriates and inpatriates assigned all over the world.
Tom has conducted numerous in-house and external professional seminars.
Tom holds a Master’s degree in Law from the University of Leuven.

Clutterbuck,D , and Megginson, D. (2005) Making Coaching Work : Creating a Coaching Culture.
Deloitte Belgium Annual Report 2012 – Being Distinctive


This article was first published in the AC Global Bulletin - Issue 2 July 2014