Hannah Reed has first-hand experience of the life-changing effects of coaching – which is why she’s on a mission to pay it forward.
Imagine being asked a question, opening your mouth and nothing coming out. Imagine answering the telephone and not being able to say, “Hello”. Imagine being in a meeting and not being able to introduce yourself. I have a severely overt stammer, which made even the most basic speaking situations very difficult forme. By 25 years old, I knew I had to do something.
My days were spent avoiding situations, changing words to things that were easier to say, or physically contorting my articulators to push out words that I could not avoid, like my name. It was exhausting. I would cry with frustration.
When I heard about a speech programme that included coaching to help participants gain control of their stammer. Speech therapy had never worked for me before, but I had nothing to lose, so I signed up. My coach was experienced in performance coaching and, from the start, I knew that he believed in me and believed I could overcome this, even if I didn’t quite believe it myself.
Over the next few years, we worked together to get my speech under control.
My coach was there for the tears and triumphs, empowering me to change my life; to do anything I wanted to, and not let my speech hold me back ever again.
I did things I never thought possible: teach courses in America and the Middle East, train staff at work, and even do simple things like order a takeaway or give directions, which I had never been able to do
before. My life was transformed.
It was this transformation that made me want to become a coach, to pay it forward, and help others achieve their potential like I had; believing in them when they didn’t believe in themselves and cheering them to greatness. This was now my mission.
I work at Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust. We have around 15,500 staff who aim to provide the best patient care with limited funding. Caring for staff through coaching is key to enhancing patient care: staff are more likely to show commitment when they feel valued and supported, have ownership over their work, and recognise their positive impact on service development.
My objective is to utilise coaching to release talents and strengths from our staff, at a time when we need them most. Our scheme acts as an introduction service. Staff register for an internal coach, are matched within 48 hours, and meet monthly for six months to overcome their issue.
In three years, more than 500 staff have accessed the service, and 200 staff are trained to coach or mentor. The service was evaluated by London South Bank University who recognised that the service helped individuals to develop personally and professionally, focusing on skills to deal with challenging situations.
The programme is valued by staff, who believe it to be a worthwhile investment with benefits across the organisation. ‘Caring for the carers’ is the biggest achievement of our service.In the words of one coachee: “Coaching has had a profound effect on me. It has given me the space and opportunity to discuss professional and personal issues in a neutral capacity.
The process helped me to feel valued in the organisation.” My life was changed through coaching. Every day, I endeavour to do the same for someone else.
Hannah and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust won gold at the TJ Awards 2016 for their coaching and mentoring programme.