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John Lewis & Partners

The John Lewis Partnership started as an experiment in industrial democracy by their Founder, John Spedan Lewis, who believed there was a better way of doing business. Now, with 80,000 employees, John Lewis Partnership is the largest employee-owned business in the UK with total trading sales of over £12.3bn

"Our managers returned and agreed it was the best training they had ever received, so we ran another cohort."
Mike Bestwick
Branch Manager

At a Glance

In the face of a dynamic retail landscape and a comprehensive management restructure, John Lewis & Partners Exeter recognised the urgent need to develop coaching skills among its leadership team. Branch Manager Mike Bestwick aimed to instigate a culture shift within his store, emphasising empowerment and engagement amidst shrinking management numbers.
Mike spearheaded the implementation of coaching solutions, notably the "Leader as Coach" programme by the Coaching Focus Group. This initiative involved training 26 managers in coaching methodologies aimed at empowering all partners within the organisation. The programme was lauded as transformative, inspiring a shift towards coaching-centric leadership.
The impact of coaching culture was profound, exemplified by one attendee's journey in particular. Equipped with newfound coaching skills, innovation increased greatly, leading to efficiency improvements and recognition at both local and national levels. This approach resonated throughout the whole organisation, with stories of increased empowerment and engagement of partners in his branch and beyond.

Dive Deeper

A closer look at how help

Embarking on a comprehensive management restructure, the need for a culture shift at John Lewis was imperative.

Two years ago, John Lewis embarked on a comprehensive management restructure across all stores. Mike Bestwick, a seasoned leader, recognised the pressing need for developing coaching skills among his management team in Exeter. He envisioned a leadership approach that would not only engage but also empower leaders and all John Lewis partners in his store, particularly as the number of managers was shrinking. He saw the need for a culture shift within his store.

Initiative: Mike spearheaded the implementation of coaching solutions aimed at empowering partners, John Lewis' term for all employees. A pivotal moment came when 14 managers participated in Coaching Focus Group's skills programme: "Leader as Coach". All managers were inspired by the programme and agreed it was the best training they had ever received. Due to this success, 12 more managers went through the programme too.

The impact of coaching skills built by Coaching Focus reverberated through the branch and beyond.

Impact: One attendee, Mark, emerged as a champion of coaching methodologies. Equipped with newfound coaching skills, Mark embarked on a mission to drive innovation within his store, leading to continuous improvements in efficiency and time management, subsequently benefiting other branches too. Mark's innovative ideas garnered recognition; he won both the John Lewis' Speedan Cup and an Innovations Award at a national level.

Not only this, but the impact on Mark as an individual reverberated through the store and impacted the partners he coached. Mark initiated an ‘Innovation Academy’, facilitating collaborative problem-solving among partners. Fuelled by the belief that those facing the problem probably also have the best solution in mind, numerous innovative ideas have been implemented across the organisation, further enhancing efficiency and engagement.

Mark's journey exemplifies the transformative power of coaching. Previously inclined to provide a ‘quick fix’ by finding solutions himself, coaching enabled Mark to empower his colleagues to devise their action plans, fostering a sense of ownership and engagement among the partners. Feedback on the solutions implemented was overwhelmingly positive, leading to Mark being invited to work with other branches where he replicated his success.

We knows what works at work.

Mike and Mark both wholeheartedly recommend the "Leader as Coach" course. Mark emphasises its profound impact on his approach to working with people. They highlighted Coaching Focus’ pragmatic approach, where theory and content are delivered with the real world in mind, which is a testament to the course's unique selling proposition:  "We know what works at work". This practical focus enabled Mark to apply what he had learned effectively, contributing to the rapid success of the culture shift within John Lewis.

Coaching Focus Group's partnership with John Lewis is a testament to the transformative potential of coaching in retail leadership. By embracing coaching methodologies, leaders like Mike and Mark have not only empowered their teams but also fostered a coaching culture – a culture of engagement, innovation, and continuous improvement. Their success underscores the importance of investing in coaching skills as a catalyst for organisational growth and employee development in the ever-evolving retail landscape.