Coaching in post-pandemic HE organisations – by default or by design?

Where did we start?  

All three authors were keen to work together on ‘something to do with coaching’ – Anna had started to re-shape and re-energise the University’s Coaching Network; Julia was studying for her L7 Executive Coaching Supervision qualification and Irene was writing her MA dissertation on the evaluation of coaching. All the stars aligned and so, here we are, writing our blog after our presentation at the Business School Learning and Teaching Festival 2021. 

What are we looking at?  

Our question – that we are still honing and polishing and recrafting is:   

“How do we support staff and students with post-pandemic learning through developing coaching skills and deepening reflective practice by providing coaching supervision and what does our evaluation show us?“  

Feedback from our reviewers was very positive but they also said that our question was very broad, and they suggested that we focus on one or two specific areas.  We are still working this through and are looking forward to sharing our future findings later.  

Our approach  

As the University has completed its recent strategy refresh and we have a new vision, we really wanted to live and breathe our values of ‘collaboration, impact and inclusivity’.    

Our approach is to collaborate across the three different perspectives of teaching, research and organisational development, identifying where the impact may occur by evaluating this journey and by working holistically and inclusively through our range of perspectives to engage, reflect, facilitate and act in response to our question.   

What’s our story so far?  

In early 2021, Anna, as Organisational Development and Engagement Manager, had started the refresh of the Coaching Network and was looking for factors that could improve the offering and ‘professionalise’ the coaching offer and network. Julia, as Teaching Fellow and Executive Coach, had just been sponsored by the University to do the L7 Coaching Supervision qualification and was looking for a minimum of 20 coaching supervision hours. Irene, Drill Hall Library Manager and MA student, had just started her MA HRM dissertation on the evaluation of coaching in HEI’s.  Serendipity brought us together through some informal connections and we are now working more closely together on this question.    

The coaching network has recently opened its offering of further development courses to become coaches and looked at refreshing the Continuing Professional Development element of the programme.  All members of the coaching network have been offered a number of coaching supervision sessions with Julia over the summer to support them in their coaching practice development and offer them a safe space to reflect on past and current experiences in coaching.  Irene has commenced her MA dissertation and is reflecting on the evaluation of the impact of coaching in HEI’s. Below, she considers the key questions:   

Our presentation at the Learning and Teaching Festival  

In June 2021, we were asked to present at the Business School Learning and Teaching Festival. We were delighted and slightly trepidatious as we had only started working together!  We co-designed and co-built a slide deck and presentation and agreed who would do what. The questions and comments were interesting, and we are reflecting on them as our journey continues. 

Participants commented that it was a good and interesting presentation and that it would be interesting to see this is being worked on further as not everyone is open to a coaching relationship!  

We were asked several questions – our responses are in italics under the questions:  

How many coaches do you have in the network?  

We currently have 23, however a further 16 are currently training to become coaches.  

Do you ask for feedback?  

Feedback is sought from the coachee via a pre and post coaching questionnaire.  

Do you know the impact of coaching on the coachees and the university?  

As coaching is so individualised it can be challenging to gauge the wider impact on the university. With the new strategy, it may be easier to align the impact of the coaching with the strategy.  

As there are so many cultures in the organisation, how would we manage differing expectations?  

We are mindful of the range of cultures we have at the University – in terms of organisational and other cultural dimensions. This forms part of our reflective practice and learning, together with our wish to co-design and co-evaluate so we can co-develop any future coaching interventions. 

Our reflections from the Learning and Teaching Festival are:  

These questions have raised further questions for us and have given us food for thought in terms of next steps of the design and focus of the coaching network, the need for coaching supervision and the evaluation and measurement of impact on the individual and organisation.    

Moving forward, we envisage that there will be tools used to measure impact and effectiveness that will improve the network’s experience and skills, a higher degree of reflective practice and better alignment with the University’s strategic path.  

We have deepened our reflection and submitted an update to this programme of work to SHIFT 2022 as we near the completion of our evaluation of the coaching supervision.  

Why is evaluating impact in coaching so important?  

Implementing a coaching programme to support staff and students does not come without its own challenges, the main one is to secure support from senior managers from a financial perspective, but also by allocating protected time for staff to develop this new set of skills. Being able to measure success is vital to justify developing and maintaining coaching as a developmental intervention. Without a method for evaluation, it is impossible to judge if coaching is doing the job, if the investment (financial or other resources) is worthy and indeed, to know if we do need more coaching because the intervention is doing its job!   

Although measuring impact is very important, it is also very difficult and the lack of scientific research looking into an effective tool to measure the effectiveness of coaching is well known among scholars. When evaluating coaching impact often the focus is on the coachee’s development, what they are obtaining and how they are benefiting from the relationship with the coach. The coachee’s  objectives are, or may not be, aligned with the organisation’s ones. Also, often, the measuring of impact is done through anecdotal reporting based on personal perceptions, which are difficult to compare to what the organisation is getting or hoping to get out of the investment in coaching. The coachee’s achievement may not always fit the organisation’s strategic objectives.   

We are very aware that to be able to evaluate the impact of any coaching intervention, parameters to measure the success need to be established from the start, including not only the goals of the coachee, but also the goals of the organisation which is funding the intervention as a developmental tool. The University of Greenwich Coaching Network wants to be able to measure the impact that our coaches’ work is having in the institution. Are we enhancing staff wellbeing and their performance? Is the role of coaching supervision enabling improved and deeper reflective practice? And if this is the case, are students also benefiting from this enhancement? Anecdotal evidence shows that members of staff who have been part of a coaching, or coaching supervision, relationship have benefited from it, but we do not know what impact this has had on the overall organisation’s performance.   

What next?  


We will continue with our collaboration across the three different perspectives of teaching, research and organisational development so we can explore, separately and together, our question.  The coaching network will now have a coaching supervisor working with them (Julia) over the next 3 months – and hopefully beyond, as coaching supervision is now part of Julia’s academic workload, and we will be seeking feedback from coaches and coachees using Hawkins’ 7 eyed model of supervision. This reflective framework will be developed by the authors as part of this work. We would then like to collaborate with other HEI’s, share, reflect and learn from our findings. This, in turn, will support Irene’s MA dissertation research, Julia’s L7 coaching supervision reflective practice and Anna’s refresh of the Coaching Network. 


In the current academic context, teaching in higher education in a post-pandemic time, we would like to suggest that the organisation considers coaching as a tool to enhance not only staff performance, but also to enhance students’ experience. This could be approached in two ways: training academic staff as coaches, so coaching principles can be used in the classroom to motivate students and help them on their academic journey. The second way is to make sure all academics have a coach that supports them with their personal and professional development, enhancing their own performance and developing their reflective practice. These two different variables need success to be defined at the outset – what will success look like and how will it be measured? 


We are deliberately taking a phenomenological approach to our work on this question.  Using and reflecting on everyone’s lived experiences is a key part of this journey and by its very nature, is intended to be inclusive. By reflecting on this work through our research, teaching, practitioner, and organisational perspectives we will sense check and take action to ensure a transparent, inclusive approach. 

Interested in finding out more about our work on coaching or the Coaching Network? Get in touch with us.


Julia Tybura, Teaching Fellow, Business School, University of Greenwich                    

Anna Radley, Organisation Development & Engagement Manager, University of Greenwich                        

Irene Barranco-Garcia, Drill Hall Library Manager, University of Greenwich


Carroll, M. 2014.  Effective supervision for the Helping Professions. London: SAGE.  

Carroll, M and Gilbert, M. 2011.  Becoming an Effective Supervisee: creating learning partnerships. London: Vukani.  

Hawkins, P. and Shohet, R. 2012.  Supervision in the Helping Professions (4th ed). Milton Keynes: Open University Press.  

Lane, D. and Corrie, S. 2006.  Counselling Psychology : its influence and future.  Counselling Psychology Review, 21 (1):12-24.  

Matthews, J. Coaching Supervisor to Julia Tybura.  

Murphy, K. 2009.  Keynote address. British Association for Supervision Practice and Research Conference. London, July.  

Ryan, S. 2004.  Vital Practice.   Portland, UK: Sea Change.  

Shaw, P. 2002. Changing conversations in organisations.  London: Routledge. 

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