When is coaching ingrained in the organization?

Interview with Joanna Antkiewicz, CEE Head of Coaching at PricewaterhouseCoopers

Coach U: How do you combine the roles of a manager and a coach?

Joanna Antkiewicz: It is quite a natural combination for me, because for many years (over 20) I have worked in managerial roles in the corporate environment that I like. My natural communication style is the coaching style, so it always suited me well.

CU: What builds your authority as a manager coach? 

J.A.: If I had to give such an essence, I would say it is authenticity and joy in what I do. I feel very well both in my role and in the company where I work and you can probably see, hear and feel it. This passion allowed me to build a global coaching network at PwC, connect people from different countries and share my knowledge. I am very motivated by my internal coaches and my clients, and it is for them that I really took the trouble to do MCC accreditation. It really makes a difference when coaches know that they have an ICF Mentor, Trainer, Supervisor and Assessor in the company, who guarantees them high ICF standards.


CU: What was a breakthrough for you in applying the coaching style?

J.A.: Realizing that, based on my natural coaching talent, I am able to achieve much, much more than by trying to change it and trying to be someone I am not really. It was many years ago, when I was still working as the HR Director. After that, things moved very quickly. I remember this turning point, after the Coaching Clinic training organized by Coach U, when I made the decision to be a coach and coaching trainer. I was accompanied by some absolutely unwavering faith that this is the best way for me. This is what happens when we follow the intention that guides us.

CU: What barriers did you overcome along the way?

J.A.: The biggest barrier all the time is the confusion about the meaning of what coaching is. Actually, I start every training with us to explain it to ourselves. This applies to both internal and external training, such as the Business Coaching Diploma, a program for future coaches, in which I am very involved in Poland and other countries. I think that a lot of legends and myths have arisen about what coaching is and it is always worth talking about it and explaining it, and not get discouraged by it.

CU: To what extent do managers in your company use the coaching style?

J.A.: The coaching style is a communicative style that we promote (through training and coaching experience) at every level in the organization. People learn what coaching is and what it is for at the stage of introducing them to the company. Then they undergo further workshops and coaching trainings so that this style becomes a natural way of conversation for them, both inside the organization and in working with clients. PwC is an organization that focuses on development and this development also takes place using coaching on many levels (program, functional, intervention). David Clutterbuck and Agnieszka Bajer in the book “Building and Sustaining Coaching Culture” mention 4 stages of implementing a coaching culture: 1) “nascent” – the seed sown (coaching occurred in the organization, however, the leaders do not undertake the commitment that it is to be part of the company’s culture), 2) “tactical” – tactical coaching (the value of coaching is recognized in the organization, but there is no systemic approach and only happens ad hoc), 3) “strategic” – strategic (coaching is considered an important process enabling the achievement of business goals and formal coaching is woven into HR processes, i.e. development and performance management, 4) “embedded” – embedded (it takes place in everyday, also informal, communication at various levels in the organization and outside it, e.g. in working with the client. There are also tools to measure effectiveness of coaching and the effectiveness and competence of coaches, as well as the mechanisms of their continuous development and support, i.e. mentor coaching, individual and group supervision, CIPD knowledge sharing programs). I would say that we have an initial “embedded” stage in the organization. In the CIPD program implemented by the PwC Academy, I am running a module on the implementation of coaching culture, and this obliges me to share experiences and actually good proven practices, as well as the so-called lessons and conclusions from the most appropriate implementation moves.

CU: How do you support managers in using the coaching style?

J.A.: Throughout the system of training, leadership programs in which coaching is a separate element, workshops and supervision. For those who want to develop as a coach, we have the Business Coaching Diploma program (also offered outside PwC), after which they can get ACC accreditation and take part in initiatives such as “Two sectors, one vision” – coaching for NGO leaders or cooperation with Leaders Quest, where they can support coaching NGO leaders from around the world.

CU: What are the barriers to managerial coaching?

J.A.: The same myth that coaching takes more time and we are all in a hurry and we want the results, both from work and coaching, to be quick and of the best possible quality. The challenge is patience and tolerance for silence and reflection.

CU: What would need to happen for managers to coach more often?

J.A.: Real awareness of what coaching is and what benefits it offers. It is ideal when managers have the opportunity to work with the coach themselves and experience first-hand how this process works. Another thing is systemic and systematic support for them, so that they feel that what they are doing is doing well and there is also someone who watches over them in the organization, who cares about it.