VDAB invests in coaching skills for all its managers

The question: How to teach leaders to spontaneously use coaching skills as a basic attitude

The result?

Project at a glance:

  • The question: How to teach leaders to spontaneously use coaching skills as a basic attitude
  • The route: 'blended learning' project
  • The result: managers see how important it is to use coaching and successfully apply these skills to everyone's satisfaction

The story:

The VDAB has a carefully thought-out and clearly defined vision on leadership (see box); their C-MOL® model explains part of this vision. According to this model, every manager fulfils three roles, that of Manager, Entrepreneur and Leader. These roles can only be adequately fulfilled if the coaching skills are applied in a natural and spontaneous way, if it is a basic attitude. To achieve this, VDAB has invested in a four-day 'blended learning' project for coordinators and leaders. This learning programme was developed by Leen Lambrechts, Master Certified Coach (MCC), and Jeanne van Dael, Professional Certified Coach (PCC).


Leen worked out an in-depth learning programme for the certified internal coaches. This gives them extra tools to help the managers further improve their coaching skills, and to apply this in practice. This also makes it easier to request the assistance of internal coaches.

VDAB's vision on leadership and the importance of coaching and coaching skills.

Incorporating leadership and using coaching skills has everything to do with 'caring' for the employees by seeking opportunities and giving them sufficient room to grow and learn. By coaching the employees, the manager is also responding to the organisation's needs. The manager can prepare the organisation for unforeseen challenges through a collective climate of learning and development. This means creating an environment in which it is ‘normal’ to admit that you are unable to do something (yet), and that you make an effort to find out how and from whom you can learn this.

Blended learning

The 'blended learning' programme combines different types of learning.
The learning programme offers a solid mix of theoretical frameworks and practical exercises, self-reflection and drive to follow up on skills learned, and is aimed at being applied in practice.

The participants provide cases that they have worked on. We examine concrete situations within the organisation, share these with each other and learn from each other. During the training, the participants will participate in conversation exercises and receive feedback from their colleagues and the trainer. Their “buddy” also encourages them to implement the action plans in practice. They can also call on the assistance of the internal coaches.

The importance of following up:

The ‘buddy’ principle is a special part of the project. At the end of each module, the participants will create an action plan to put what they have learned to practice. They will agree to follow a colleague from the group who they will challenge to execute the action plan. The buddy will coach his colleague and provide feedback. Everyone is given an extra opportunity to practise their coaching skills in a safe learning environment. Working with a buddy encourages integration and results in a higher success rate. During the next session the participants will discuss the follow-up efforts by the buddy and effects on the action plan.

The effects

Both the participants and the organiser were pleased with the learning programme. Around 70 managers have already completed the project. They have indicated that they have a better understanding of coaching needs, and have also effectively integrated the coaching skills in their own way of doing and seeing things. The participants also make more use of the internal coaches. Ultimately, all the managers will go through this process.

The participants speak:

“We were challenged to think about existing situations and how to improve them and exercised this during the training.”

"We gained insight into the GROW model and put serious effort into communicating clearly. I frequently apply the tools that I acquired in my communication with others."

“I benefited a lot from the training. It has greatly improved how I approach my employees in terms of appreciating their efforts and feedback."

"I realise just how much energy I was putting into my employees, based on a sense of responsibility. I have adopted a very different approach that focuses on making them show more responsibility. I really benefitted from asking a lot of questions. As soon as they stopped resisting, I notice their satisfaction, which was very pleasing. It also helps when dividing tasks.”


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