Case study

Building better relationships with colleagues
“I've been on many courses and they’ve always used a mock-person or a mock example, but working with a real-life person makes a huge difference. I will remember this experience forever. It has a human element and everything I learned is engraved in me now.”
Delwhar Hussain - Engineering Manager

Founded in 1998, Google has expanded to operate over 70 offices in 40 different countries. Alongside Search, Google offers a number of tools for businesses and consumers. Its consumer-facing tools include Maps, Chrome and YouTube; for businesses they offer Google Workspace, Ads and more. 

Last year it was reported that they had grown to reach over 100,000 employees, with 4000 of them being within the UK.  The company is regularly listed as being one of the best businesses to work for in the world due to its innovative company culture; employees are motivated by its creative office environment, shared mission and collaborative approach to work. 

Managing different personalities at work

Google was drawn to Circl’s unique approach to leadership development, in preparing groups of software engineers to act as hosts for new engineering apprentices. The business put forward around 20 Software Engineers from its London team, all of whom had personal goals that they wanted to achieve through the programme. The main outcome they hoped to see was an improvement in leading, coaching and managing a variety of people. 

Working as part of a huge organisation means that they’re regularly dealing with different team members and apprentices with individual working styles and personalities; being able to hone their coaching and management skills would help them capitalise on those opportunities and have a better impact. Others expressed that they wanted to improve their confidence when speaking with new people and improve their own self-awareness at work. 

“The two-way coaching aspect was one of the main reasons for choosing Circl. Working with students fit perfectly with our typical profile for apprentices, which gave the Google team the best learning opportunity for hosting apprentices in the future.”

Maya Tudor, Global Apprenticeships Specialist 

Providing an engaging opportunity to learn 

“I’ve been working at Google for over a decade and I was nervous, but the nerves help you concentrate. All of my senses were heightened which meant I could get ready to learn. I found it really useful being put in the deep end as that’s what pushes you to the next level.’ 

Delwhar Hussain - Engineering Manager The unique structure of the Circl programme provided the Google team with a hands-on opportunity to practice coaching with various people and personalities. Rather than practicing on other professionals who were similar to them, the participants were matched with a student from a disadvantaged background within the first session. Following the theory classes, the matches would meet for 1-1 sessions where the professional would practice coaching and also get to experience being coached by the student. 

Working this way pushed the Google engineers outside of their comfort zone; many of them found that they learned best when stretching themselves and working through a challenge.  Being held accountable by their Circl match meant that they were more engaged and switched on in comparison to previous development programmes where they would simply listen and take notes. They also found that the young adults were able to provide them with fresh approaches to tackling their own personal goals and problems as well.

The theory sessions focused on building effective communication skills and using the coaching approach to build trust with different types of people. The areas they worked on included active listening, curiosity and questions, providing feedback and coaching within leadership. The participants started noticing changes and applying what they were learning even while they were still taking part in the programme. Overall they found the experience extremely engaging and valued the unique and interactive approach. 

“After the first 3 sessions, we were all singing the programme’s praises and I was telling my manager and colleagues how the programme was helping me. Learning about active listening was the most beneficial and discovering how to ask open-ended questions to unlock someone's potential and help them find their own goals."

Delwhar Hussain - Engineering Manager 

Using coaching for team growth

Following the programme, the professionals shared that their top highlights included learning valuable coaching skills, being able to build better relationships with colleagues and working with engaging and exciting students. 82% of them felt more confident in their coaching abilities by the end of the sessions and 95% were able to share instances where they’ve put the skills they developed into practice at work. 

One of the best results has been that the engineers are now using coaching to help their team grow and discover their potential. One of the participants has coached their junior team members through a promotion pathway, while others found that they can provide learning opportunities by listening and asking open-ended questions, rather than directing and providing solutions. 

“I thought I knew what coaching was, but I was actually mentoring. By giving the solution to the problem being faced, I wasn’t helping the team grow as I was just telling them what to do. It’s an old-school mentality of a top-down approach. Before I would be talking for about 80% of the time and thought I was being useful. Now I'm empowering and unlocking my direct’s potential and I’m able to help them grow.”

Delwhar Hussain - Engineering Manager 

By applying active listening skills and treating teammates as equals, the managers and their reports have been able to improve their working relationship and come up with solutions together. Letting their reports come up with their own goals and coaching them to achieve them has improved the team dynamic; the reports feel better as they’ve achieved the goals themselves, and the managers don’t feel pressured to provide the solutions. 

"I was nervous before as I thought I was the one who had to provide all the solutions. The programmes helped me relax. It’s 1000% worth it. I couldn’t have got this from reading books. The experience and the practice is completely different."

Delwhar Hussain - Engineering Manager