The OCM’s Executive Coaching Transforms Together for Children

The OCM, a leading professional coaching firm, is delighted to announce its executive coaching services has enabled Together for Children (TfC) to achieve a remarkable organisational transformation, resulting in improved performance, an organisational-wide cultural change, improved employee satisfaction, and lower turnover and grievances.

The successful programme was recently recognised and praised by the HR and learning and development community, with The OCM winning the Highly Commended Award for the Best L&D initiative at the 2023 CIPD People Management Awards and the GOLD HCM Excellence Award Winner 2023 – Leadership. Both awards are a benchmark of excellence in HR, L&D, and OD, and recognise outstanding talent, teams, and projects.

The OCM’s partnership with TfC was established following Sunderland Council Children’s Services receiving an ‘inadequate’ rating in 2017. A new organisation, Together for Children (TfC), was then established in response, with the aim of transforming the quality of services.

TfC appointed its own board, created a new strategy, and introduced different ways of working. However, there were challenges. An employee survey in April 2021, and exit interviews, revealed that management and leadership behaviours, particularly when it came to conversations and performance management, were a major issue. A high number of grievances were raised by employees, taking up many management hours to resolve. As one leader commented, “looking back, it wasn’t even an organisation, just a newly formed company, with deeply fractured relationships on a number of levels.”

Jill Colbert, Chief Executive and OBE at TfC wanted to develop coaching skills amongst the leaders to sustain behavioural change within TfC, and to make significant improvements for the sake of employees and the children and their families they support. Executive coaching was to become the cornerstone of an entirely new approach, not just for TfC, but also for children’s services.

The OCM partnered with TfC to deliver a range of coaching services to support the much-needed behaviour change across the organisation. The programme included team and individual coaching for the Senior Leadership Team (SLTs), followed by coaching skills programmes for the ESLT and Team Leaders and was delivered in a flexible, agile way, with both online and face-to-face learning.

The results have been remarkable. All TfC leaders are now externally trained coaches, believed to be unprecedented in UK children’s services. Managers feel how powerful it can be to listen to young people and empower them to be part of decision-making processes; they are better able to sit in groups, ask the right questions and plan targeted actions together. They have also reported their coaching training has had a positive impact on their management approach and conversations with colleagues.

Together for Children has reported improvements across the board with improved performance and employee satisfaction plus lower turnover and grievances. And the coaching has filtered throughout their organisation with new behaviours also positively impacting young people and their families. Other councils and children’s services are now learning how TfC made the leap from a rating of ‘inadequate’ for five years to ‘outstanding’ using coaching and mentoring as a catalyst for change.


Ed Parsloe, Chief Executive at The OCM said: “We are delighted the coaching has resulted in such a positive social impact for Together for Children and the young people and their families they support. They have experienced an organisational-wide culture shift – changing how they operate and radically improving how they deliver services. Changing the leadership behaviours has set in motion a positive chain reaction, with improvements in how staff speak with parents and the conversations parents have with their children. This demonstrates the power of coaching to transform lives. We are also thrilled this programme has been recognised by industry experts with our recent award wins.”

Discussing the CIPD award Jill Colbert said: “I’m so pleased that we got the highly commended award. Our submission was authentic and very real. Looking to the future, I’m confident that our coaching programme is in very safe hands and will continue to be a cornerstone of the organisation. We also look forward to measuring our impact over time. My congratulations to all involved in a great joint enterprise!


Angela Bremner, Service Manager for HR and Transformation at Together for Children added, “Our journey with the OCM continues, which is testament to the value it has brought to our business. We continue to ensure all new managers are trained in coaching fundamentals so that staff continue to benefit from the positive principles that it brings. It transforms interaction between colleagues and lends techniques that can be used effectively with our children and their families. Coaching is incredibly powerful and can change the way we operate and in doing so, directly impacts upon our ability to provide transformative services to children, young people and their families across

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