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Voices of participants (Coaching Program)

Shinichiro Takaoka

[Name] Shinichiro Takaoka


[Position] Regional HR Manager

[Name of program] Coach A Driving Corporate Dynamism program

[Duration of Program] September 2010 – April 2011 (8 months)

*All the contents stated here are based on the interview that was held in 2012.

What are the details of your careers to date?

I joined Sumitomo Electric Industries,Ltd. in 1999. During the first 2 years, I was working in the factory environment handling HR management. After that, I was posted in HQ to do recruitment and planning/coordination of employee training. Then, I was given a chance to obtain an MBA in the US at the company’s sponsorship.
After returning to Japan, I was attached back to the factory environment with higher responsibility. In 2009, after several months of working as a trainee in Malaysia, I was transferred to Singapore. Currently, I am working at the Asia HR Center in SEIS and I’m assigned to support overall HR issues for Sumitomo Electric Group companies in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.

What is "Coaching program" all about?

1) Taking part as a coach (30 minutes x 5 times x 5 members) I conducted coaching to my colleagues and subordinates.2) Taking part as a client (30 minutes x 10 times) I received coaching sessions from a professional coach by phone.3) Attending telephone conference classes (55 minutes x 34 classes) This is a telephone conference that consists of a class coach and the participants from all kinds of companies and businesses. We learn about coaching style leadership and an assignment is given every time under the theme “relationship with others”. 4) Assessment (at the beginning and the end of the program) I received feedback from my superior, colleague and subordinates through assessment sessions on “my leadership style”.

How was the program?

Working overseas as a manager for the first time without any prior experience of being a manager ----

SingaporeBecoming a manager for the first time and managing subordinates with both language and cultural barriers was very challenging to me. I remember being caught and suffering from the gap between the ideal self of doing my job and giving sufficient coaching to my staff and the real self which was far from the ideal.

It was during such times that I had the opportunity to take part in the coaching program for expatriates. At first, I thought coaching was something top management in Europe or in the US would do so I was not sure if it was something suitable for me, but soon after I joined the program, I realized that there were so many things to learn. Gradually, after taking continuous coaching sessions and attending weekly phone conferences and doing my assignments, my daily life changed and in my new life, there is always coaching around me.

One of the most interesting experiences was to have a personal coach. A coach is someone who is by your side to assist you. A coach is not a teacher who gives you the solutions. A coach must have a trusting relationship with the client (someone who receives coaching) and provides the client with tools to accomplish the goals. For example, a coach will ask you questions and by answering to those questions, you realize what the problem is and find the solutions by yourself. This is exactly what I had experienced in the coaching sessions and it has helped me enormously in coaching my staff now.

When a manager gives an order to his/her staff in a highhanded manner, the job might get done quickly for that moment, but it will gradually make your staff not to think by themselves and demotivate them. It will also make it difficult in building a trustworthy relationship. As an expatriate, I feel it is very important to carefully build a relationship of mutual trust with the local staff. It may take some time, but I am now confident that having a mutual communication with the local staff by adopting the coaching skills with amicable atmosphere and by asking questions, it will eventually give a positive effect on the whole organization.

Before I took coaching sessions, I used to work too much on my own, completely overloaded, and give fragmented instructions only to jump into conclusions. After receiving coaching, I changed the way by explaining the backgrounds of the instructions I had given to my staff and let them think for themselves. In 2010, we started a new regional training program. During the meetings to prepare for the training, I gave little instruction to them and tried to ask effective questions instead. It wasn’t easy for me either but I wanted to practice coaching to see how it would turn out. At first, they looked puzzled to see my different approach I made to them, but they started to become proactive, consulting with each other. Because they took initiative in what they did, a problem was already solved even before I gave them instructions, which is good to know but somewhat … lonely (!) in a sense that I was not involved in the process. This training program was successful and it is now in series. Now, my staff takes care of these training sessions. Instead of working by myself and only providing instructions, I truly feel that we enjoy working together now, looking at the staff taking active roles and the jobs getting done more effectively than before.

Shinichiro TakaokaAfter taking the coaching program , I feel more confident in delegating the work to my staff with more trust towards them. As a manager, I would like to establish my own style and give coaching by showing them the vision, entrusting them the work, giving consultation whenever they are in trouble and thinking together from their perspectives. I would like to make the most out of what I have learned from the coaching program and improve and raise the organizational productivity.

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