british american tobacco p.l.c. sustainability report 2009 - South Africa's coaching programme


British American Tobacco South Africa has introduced a programme that enables its managers to coach employees in developing key skills, rather than relying on structured classroom training to ‘tell’ people what they need.

This one-to-one approach to learning and development creates bonds among the company’s people over time and can accelerate the development of key leadership skills and qualities. It has many advantages over traditional training, particularly as it helps make sense of real life dilemmas and challenges, rather than relying on case studies, and allows first-hand experience in coaching which can then be passed on.

Several initiatives were put in place to develop a coaching culture, including workshops for new joiners and support to practices such as executive coaching and coaching circles.

The company has found that building a coaching culture has challenges and that the most important considerations include:

  • Incorporating the coaching agenda into the business strategic plan;
  • The support and commitment of top managers;
  • Robust performance management; and
  • Sustained momentum, focus and continuous communication.

As well as enabling people to develop faster, the programme also facilitates solutions to business challenges that are better thought through. It has created a business environment where knowledge is shared widely and where networks now cross over traditional organisational boundaries.