Career Coach Academy at IBM Global Business Services

Creating a coaching culture in one of the world’s largest tech solutions providers through a series of 2-day Career Coach Academies across Europe for over 1000 people managers.


IBM Global Business Services (GBS) Europe needed to improve how they developed and retained their people. Critical to this was their People Managers adopting a ‘coaching’ style for development conversations – becoming “Career Coaches”.


Steps worked closely with the key stakeholders to formulate a solution around our Steps to Change methodology.

We carried out in-depth research with a cross section of the business and fed back to the Senior Leadership Steering Group on the current culture within GBS, and the barriers to change. We then worked closely with them to design a “Career Coach Academy” – a two-day intervention delivered in 12 locations across Europe for more than 1000 people managers.

See It and Own It

Over the two days we used live drama, video, and expertly facilitated discussion to help participants recognise their need to change, what they could personally do differently, and to take ownership of the desired change.

The barriers they identified were fed back to the market leaders – who responded and committed to actions to help remove these barriers.

Change It and Live It

We provided a 4-hour skills session in smaller groups with a qualified Steps coach, enabling the participants to apply the GROW technique as part of their Career Coaching relationship with their reports.

After the event we worked with the people managers to form coaching sets so that they could support and coach one another in achieving the desired changes. To help them in this we produced two video resources:

  • One to keep the learnt skills fresh in their minds, through video examples showing real life GBS situations and how the coaching approach can be applied. This video also explained how to run a successful coaching set.
  • One for practitioners (the coachees), explaining their responsibility in a coaching relationship and what they could expect from their People Managers going forward.


Participants were asked at the close of the Career Coach Academy to assess the impact, relevance and quality of the workshop. IBM have a benchmark of 80% of participants rating the intervention good or excellent – the score for this programme was 98%.

Participants were also independently surveyed following the programme. On the question about their satisfaction of how much new skill they had acquired the result was 95% (against an IBM benchmark of 25%). On the question of how well they felt the new learning would transfer to the workplace they scored it 92% (against a benchmark of 80%).