A breakthrough I had whilst catching up with old friends.

This week I’ve been reflecting on the value of coaching and developing colleagues.

I had the pleasure of catching up with an old supplier I used to audit for the Field to Fork standard and a member of a technical team I managed a few years ago.

They both are in new roles with different companies and what struck me was how well they had developed into managers over time.

I listened whilst the first colleague told me about her new role in logistics that required managing a team of people. She had moved away from the technical side of the business but was keen to ensure that her department was always ‘audit ready’ and she routinely carried out internal audits to get a view of how the department performs. “I tell my team that they would rather get the news about non-conformances from my internal audit than from an external auditor. I learnt that from you” she said.

The second colleague told me about the changes he was gradually making in the department, how he gave his staff time to air their concerns to get to root causes of problems and how he had learnt to identify strengths and weaknesses in the team. “It’s all about people management, I always remember my first appraisal from you when you asked me how I wanted to be managed, it’s important to know how people tick”

What struck me from both these conversations was that two people who were both technically competent had learned key lessons about people management from these experiences and were now passing on the benefit of their knowledge to their teams.

A few years have passed since we last worked together but I have learnt from seeing them last week the importance of developing and coaching.

“We were motivated by our mentors to go an extra mile.”

 ― Lailah Gifty Akita, Think Great: Be Great!

Here are my 5 tips for effective coaching:

  • Listen to the problem
  • Ask a series of questions to get them to think of a solution
  • Demonstrate how the solution can take the pain away
  • Train how to execute the solution
  • Follow-up once the training has taken place


Barbara Bray is an auditor for M&S Select audits (Field to Fork), an ISO 22000 trained Lead auditor, certified trainer and previously worked as a Technical Manager for Bakkavor before launching Alo Solutions consultancy in 2014.