Coaching skills to help NHS Trust managers meet the challenges of Foundation Trust status


Pennine Care NHS Trust is a mental health trust in the north west of England which in recent years became a foundation trust. As part of the transition the Trust was keen to ensure that managers at the third tier level were able to meet the challenges of foundation trust status. In particular, the Trust wished to enhance the capability of managers to work together effectively – this level being the crucial interface between strategic and operational functions.

One of the Trust’s senior managers had participated in one of OPM’s ILM Diploma in Executive Coaching and Leadership Mentoring programmes and was keen to draw on the benefits of coaching for helping managers, individually and collectively, to achieve this goal. Working closely with the senior manager we designed a bespoke one-to-one coaching programme that was implemented over an 8-month period during 2009 and created space for third tier managers to:

  • Work through their own views about their roles and the contribution they make to the achievement of the Trust’s goals;
  • Review the progress of the Trust and the third tier management team;
  • Identify and enhance individual and collective strengths;
  • Build their capabilities to meet the challenges facing the Trust; and
  • Establish the most effective ways the Trust can support them in your role, now and in the future.

What we did

The coaching programme comprised three elements:

  1. A ‘scene-setting’ team workshop facilitated by OPM to open the programme;
  2. A series of four one-to-one coaching sessions for each manager with an independent executive coach provided by OPM – these sessions focused on building each manager’s capabilities in areas of relevance to them; and
  3. A ‘forward planning’ team workshop facilitated by OPM to close the programme and determine how to follow-up emerging themes.

At the scene-setting workshop an OPM coach used a team coaching approach to enable managers to identify the major challenges facing the third tier team as a starting point for individuals to establish an appropriate agenda for the coaching conversations. Following the series of confidential coaching sessions the team came back together for the forward planning workshop to share their learning, agree practical strategies for moving the team (and the Trust) forward.

In subsequent years the Trust commissioned OPM to run ILM Level 5 and 7 coaching qualification programmes as part of its strategy to establish a cadre of in-house coaches and develop a coaching culture. Over the years we have continued to provide support to Pennine Care coaches in the form of supervision and advanced skills workshops. Now that the Trust has trained its own internal coach supervisor our role has focused on CPD activities.

We have continued to provide executive coaching to individual managers on a call-off basis, including:

  • Transition support for 4 managers over the first 12 month period of their involvement with the Trust following the merger of their community-based health organisations into Pennine Care;
  • Support for managers moving into new roles; and
  • Helping managers to deal with specific and complex challenges.


Our coaching work with Pennine Care has been highly successful. Feedback from the senior manager who commissioned the coaching indicates that both he and his top team colleagues have noticed significant improvements in individual effectiveness, notably in relation to influencing, giving and receiving feedback, and in the cohesion of the management team, including the incorporation of new members.

The Trust sees coaching – alongside other organisational development initiatives – as a key way of equipping individual managers and teams to deal with the challenges of foundation status. OPM is now working with the Trust to create a team of qualified, in-house executive coaches at senior level to sustain and expand the benefits of coaching throughout