Embedding a coaching culture


Kerry Foods is a leading supplier of value-added and customer branded food products to major supermarket chains, convenience stores and independent retailers across the UK and Ireland.

Kerry Foods embarked upon an ambitious business transformation project to place ‘business enablement’ and ‘transformation for growth’ at its center. Closely studying other organizations who out-perform their sectors, Kerry is on a journey to become a leaner, more matrixed organization that uses a shared language for performance and a culture that aligns individual goals to organizational purpose and meaning.

To be successfully embedded, the significant change program required behavior change and the adoption of a high-performance coaching culture in which transparency and honest conversations are cornerstones of how Kerry Foods people work together.

Individuals need to understand how they fit into the wider organization, the synergies between themselves and what they do, and the organization and its strategy. For a large, multi-site organization, the embedding process required rigor and practicality.




To support the culture shift required, we co-created a series of two-day high-performance coaching workshops. The core purpose of the workshops was to embed a high-performance coaching culture within the leadership population which would then cascade down. The focus was on coaching around real-time business issues and creating an environment in which ‘real relationships’ were at the fore.

Prior to the workshop, we conducted a 360° feedback survey for each leader. This provided a read-out of how colleagues and peers experienced them within a coaching context. The workshop emphasized practical, meaningful and relevant exercises to enable each leader as a coach. A core focus was on ‘how to become a coach and establish a feedback culture within my team’. This required a relatively high degree of self-disclosure and was stretching for participants.

Over the course of the program, delegates partnered with a wide range of individuals and were encouraged to roll their sleeves up and dive in, coaching their colleagues through real business issues. Consolidation exercises took place at the end of the workshop with the aim of having coaching conversations right away.


At the outset it was agreed that the success of the program would be determined if there was a discernible culture shift and if feedback metrics reflected leaders’ increased coaching capability.

Following the workshop, leaders reported a noticeable shift in behaviors and mindset – both their own and their colleagues. The pilot group of general managers have subsequently gone on to introduce the workshops into their own factories and promote a feedback culture which promotes ‘honest conversations’.

An important part of the success is attributable to buy-in from the very top. The top management team participated in the workshops twice – once as an intact team, and the second time with their own functional teams. To support the cascade, a member of the top management team was also at each workshop kick-off to share their own story of how the workshop had impacted them as a leader and coach.

Find out more about Executive Coaching with YSC...

How do you extend impact and improve the ability of leaders, teams and organizations to deliver results?