Trevor Comyn works as director of learning, knowledge, learning and development at legal firm Mills & Reeve. We caught up with him to ask about his time on the AoEC’s Systemic Team Coaching Diploma programme and how he is applying it in his everyday work.
What is your career background and coaching experience, and what led you to sign up for the AoEC’s Systemic Team Coaching Diploma course?
I completed the Advanced Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching back in 2005. I am now director of knowledge, learning & development at Mills & Reeve, a 1000-person strong law firm. In this role I spend little time coaching one-to-one, with most of my time is spent working with groups, teams or at the organisation/system level. So, I decided to sign up for the Systemic Team Coaching Diploma.
What did you find were the most beneficial learning experiences on the Diploma?
Hard to say! My fellow participants were fantastic, the faculty great and the material was stimulating. But all in all, I relished the three-day modules – time to really immerse oneself in the programme.
What new skills or competencies did you develop when studying the Diploma course?
I have really gained confidence and mastery in working with groups and teams in the here-and-now. I have always trained and facilitated, but now I am able to co-create in the moment, by being able to draw on the frameworks from the Diploma.
What advice would you give to a future participant to ensure they really get the best from the learning experience? (E.g. make the most the practitioner group, focus on the case study, do all the background reading etc)
My advice is to take risks. I coached an “angry team” scenario on the course – terrifying but learnt a lot. I dismissed one of the books on the book list but came back to it and it now informs a huge amount of my thinking and approach. I tried things out back in the office and what seemed a bit far out there always seemed to work!
What was the benefit to you of working on a live case study throughout the programme?
My case study team was a fantastic learning opportunity, a great way of trying things out, gave me confidence that the approach really worked.
Has team coaching become a bigger part of your role since doing the programme?
I don’t formally “team coach” but I use the mindset, knowledge and skills every day at the organisational and team levels in my role. Personally, it has transformed the way I work and has delivered huge benefits in the way we manage organisational change, develop our strategy and culture.
What typically are the challenges you have been asked to help colleagues at Mills & Reeve address?
A recent challenge was to develop a partner development programme. With the experience of the Systemic Team Coaching Diploma, I gathered a group of partners together, said I don’t know the best way to do this, but we are going to co-create this together. We worked together as a team for six months, with me drawing extensively on Peter Hawkins’ five disciplines and the experience of the Diploma. We now have over sixty partners working in self-sustaining development groups and it has cost next to nothing!
How do you measure the effectiveness of your coaching work?
Engagement, energy, enthusiasm, real world outcomes. My experience is that systemic team coaching unlocks huge amounts of potential as team members really feel engaged in a common pursuit which is of their choosing and for which they feel responsible.
What feedback have you received from the colleagues you have coached?
Best feedback was from my managing partner on creating partner development programme. I had explained that we would co-create the programme together, and I didn’t have “the answer”. It took a few weeks, but she came up to me and said, “I am beginning to believe that you really have no idea what we are going to do.” She then smiled and walked off.
What do you find most rewarding about your coaching work?
Liberating people from mechanistic and last century organisational structures so as to allow their potential to emerge in relation with others!
An enormous thank you to Trevor for sharing his experience of training with the AoEC.