Training Journal Awards 2016 – Anne Talks About Her Experience as a Judge

In Uncategorised by Anne Thomas

It was an honour to lead the judging for the Best Coaching and Mentoring Programme for the Training Journal Awards this year.

Having spent over 20 years studying, creating, training and applying techniques, qualifications and programmes for developing coaching skills and cultures, I was excited to learn about new ideas that are working in today’s workplace.

The process of judging the online entries alone took the best part of four days because I always like to be thorough. When I was first presented with the entries, I remember thinking that the public sector would have a tough time against the corporate challengers. How wrong I was! So, to ensure my marking was as objective as it could be, I decided to mark all the entries ‘blind’, i.e. not knowing who was who. Having trained as an assessor by Saville and Holdsworth several years ago to undertake competency interviews, I confidently marked each entry against the required set of standards and compared my top six finalist list to that of my fellow judge, Carmen Lester.

We immediately agreed on five out of the six finalists, two of which were public sector organisations. To make the top six was a great achievement and yet I knew that each entry would be wanting to win the prestigious gold award, so the interviews would very interesting indeed and would bring these entries to life. Being a judge for the first time, I was honestly hedging my bets on the corporates making a clean sweep of the prizes.

Then came interview day and every presentation was real joy. With passion for coaching, passion for people and commitment to presenting their entries to the very best of their abilities, I felt inspired and hugely privileged to be meeting these people and leading the judging panel.

Interview number four of six was a presentation by the team at Guys St Thomas’s NHS. In walked a lady called Hannah from Guys St Thomas’s with her colleague Angie – what happened next will stay with me forever.

Hannah had a significant speech impediment. This was not mentioned in the online entry. Therapists had been unable to make the progress she wanted to improve her speaking abilities until she met a therapist who had undertaken performance coaching training. Suddenly, she was challenged and coached to speak – and she did. So grateful is she, that she now is involved with delivering coaching skills and developing a coaching culture within Guys. To get the buy-in of the leadership team, she tells her story and I am sure, just like me, they were inspired, engaged and in awe of what goes beyond training coaching skills – it is now a cause and purpose for her life. A mission.

Next, she shared how the lack of funds meant she had to be creative with resources. So, she approached the local university and enrolled the help of students who, as part of their study, completed research and analysis required for Guys for free. I wish I could share with you all the details of their entry. The aims are very practical and very real, not overwhelming and yet purposeful, sustainable and transformational in that we really could be seeing physios and therapists trained as performance coaches. They won the Gold award.

Southend Borough Council were last to be interviewed. Years and years of work to simply have one person coaching three and for that principle to be rolled out across the council and developed over years – not months. Their thoughtful programme and obvious tenacity were impressive. Now that is commitment to developing a coaching culture I thought. A well-deserved silver award for them.

Swarovski were a class act too. A simple yet impeccably executed programme not just regionally but globally. They have created a system that has given them a sustainable programme delivered to their most senior of executives upon which one to one talent development is an integral part of the organisations culture. Bronze award and great potential for gold next year if they continue expanding this project.

Public Sector winners in first and second places. I would never have bet on that. It just goes to show that money and ‘fancy’ training programmes aren’t everything – sometimes it’s about the whole organisation being absolutely committed to applying and delivering the basics exceptionally well.

We have been asked to judge again next year. Who knows what category my team and I will be given but I am looking forward to the experience very much indeed.

A big thank you to Debbie Carter for asking me to be a judge – she along with Jo Cook and the team at Dods Group PLC organised an amazing event. Also, my personal thanks go to Georgie Orton and Carmen Lester for giving their time, energy and commitment to judging with me. Let’s do it again next year!

Well done to all who entered and many congratulations to all the finalists who deserved a special mention:

  • Royal Bank of Scotland and White Water Group
  • Lyreco
  • Dell


hannah-and-angie  sbc

Photographs: 1. A view from the judges tables at the awards evening. 2. Hannah, Anne and Angie from Guys St Thomas’s. 3. Anne and the team at Southend Borough Council