Client Stories & Testimonials

Read about some real-life examples of Coaching or Mentoring

Coaching Stories

Case 1 - Taming the inner control freak

Simon asked to work with a coach after attending a one-day ‘coaching for managers’ workshop, and a workshop on leading teams through organisational change. Simon wanted to develop his coaching style as a manager further while also using the time to ensure he could cope himself with an ever-increasing workload and unprecedented change.

Over the course of eight months, Simon attended seven hour-long coaching sessions and used the time in between sessions to experiment with new approaches to familiar problems. He also invited his coach to observe him chairing a meeting with his team, and opted for ‘three cornered coaching’ where his line manager joined a session discussing the coaching.

A key learning moment came when Simon realised that as a manager he could ensure good results even when he delegated tasks he would prefer to do himself. Delegating more uncovered untapped potential in his team, and to his delight he also found that being asked to step up was a huge motivator for his team members.

At the end of the process Simon gave several examples of how his practice as a manager was refreshed and broadened, and was relieved to feel more on top of his own workload at the same time.

Case 2 - A career challenge

Jo came to coaching when her career was at an all-time low: having moved 200 miles to start over in her mid-forties she discovered that she could not rebuild her career as a personal trainer due to a chronic injury. While coming to terms with the disappointment, Jo decided she would use the coaching sessions to focus on her strengths and personal qualities to explore her options for a new career.

Using a person-centred approach, Jo’s coach created a safe space for her to think out loud and give ideas room to grow, while responding sensitively to Jo’s levels of resilience on the good days and the not-so-good ones. By each session, Jo became more focused on what she wanted to achieve through a process of elimination. Unafraid to try new things, her confidence and mental energy grew as a result of new insights. She discovered that by confiding a little more in the people closest to her, they knew how and when to support her – and were able to join her in celebrating her successes.

Less than a year after Jo concluded her coaching sessions, Jo has established a successful career in business. She attributes her success in part to losing her fear of asking others for help.

Case 3 – Introversion turned to advantage

Emma had been enjoying a hugely successful career in academia for decades when she signed up for a nine month long leadership development programme. As part of the programme she was assigned six 1:1 sessions with a Socius Executive Coach. Emma decided to use her sessions to address an old, persistent problem. Despite having a high profile in her field that saw her travel the world delivering keynote speeches in front of large audiences of fellow experts with ease, she confessed to hiding in the ladies’ room to avoid the expected socialising after. Days later Emma would receive emails from delegates who were disappointed to have missed her, and this bothered her greatly. Connecting with a new generation of researchers is one of the things that motivated her the most.

With her coach at her side, Emma explored what she disliked so much about networking. A key discovery was that she recognised herself entirely in the description of an introvert! Because Emma genuinely enjoyed giving speeches and interacting with her conference audiences and did this so well, people automatically assumed she must be the extroverted type.

Soon Emma had mapped out what situations she found hardest to navigate. Understanding how introversion works, what its strengths are and how she could best preserve her mental energy for important ‘hobnobbing events’ helped her to see these in an entirely different way. Armed with some surprisingly simple techniques Emma engaged more and more in networking and found herself so engaged that a friend exclaimed, “Emma has had an epiphany!”.

Emma is making the most of being an introvert. She plans for events that can be mentally draining and when she attends them, she uses the strengths of an introvert: she’s a great listener, makes considered contributions to conversation rather than engage in chit-chat and exudes calm which puts people at ease. Most importantly, she no longer dreads them but truly enjoys the ones she chooses to join.

Case 4 – Overcoming exam stress

Junior doctors have been in the headlines in recent years as one of the most hardworking professional groups in the UK. Becoming a specialist takes many years of study while practising full time, and exams are frequent.

Anja asked for support to learn ways to deal with a particularly notorious exam, which she had taken three times without success. Her fourth attempt would also be the last she was allowed, putting huge pressure on Anja to perform.

It emerged that Anja’s knowledge and experience were not the problem: she knew the subject matter inside out and as a senior trainee already had years of clinical experience to rely on. The problem lay in the format of the oral examination, where she had previously been unable to recover from stumbling on one of her answers. During this particular exam, Anja would rotate to two new examiners every fourteen minutes, and each time both examiners would ask one question each for her to answer in seven minutes. This would be repeated six or seven times times.

Anja’s previous experience was that the scrutiny of the examiners caused her to become flustered while she took a few moments how best to answer their question. Anja’s encyclopaedic knowledge was actually a hindrance: too many possible answers to choose from! On reflection, this part of her problem was the easiest to address. Anja identified some issues with her communication skills and a lack of confidence as the real culprits.

With the help of her coach, Anja learned new communication techniques to deal with her halting answers. She experimented in simulated exams with tone of voice, body language and also used mindfulness techniques to quieten her inner critic during stressful moments. She reported feeling much more confident and even relaxed in the run-up to the exam.

Anja took the exam and passed with an 88% pass grade on her fourth attempt, ending in the top 5% of her cohort.

Mentoring Stories

Case – Stakeholder Engagement

David had recently become the director of a prestigious new research institute with a global reach. As a researcher and scientist he found himself with challenges that would sound familiar to start-up entrepreneurs: how to get interdisciplinary, geographically dispersed people to become a team; how to define the mission and vision in an understandable way for stakeholders far and wide – and in fact, who were these stakeholders to begin with?

It soon emerged that all of the above questions were closely linked and could not be seen separately. All of them centred on a clear (and urgent) need to find out who the institute’s stakeholders were, what their significance to the objectives of the institute were, and how best to engage with them.

Using well-known project management tools David started identifying and mapping stakeholders over the course of several sessions. In between sessions, he put members of his team to work to grow the map and start analysing key relationships. Some crucial insights emerged, which had significant impact on priorities and the mission of the institute.

Next, David and his mentor conceived a series of international events designed to bring the hugely diverse stakeholder audience together to decide on research projects. Carefully facilitated events took place in Asia, South America and the UK to invite, shortlist and eventually select research projects to be funded by the new institute.

The outcome of the mentoring collaboration was that David identified key stakeholders and relationships early on in the life of the new institute that might have gone unnoticed without this exercise. This also proved essential to establishing the culture and mission of the institute, and ensuring a rigorous and fair selection process.

Facilitation Stories

Case 1 – Focussing on the bigger picture

In an environment of constant work pressure, many organisations struggle to find time to spend together as a team away from day-to-day delivery to focus on ‘the bigger picture’. Nationally renowned management consultant sports/leisure specialists Knight Kavanagh & Page (KKP) in considering how to tackle key changes to its business invited all staff to a development day aimed at sharing knowledge, discussing the Company’s present standing and strengths and its proposed new direction.

It was important for owner/CEO John Eady to step back during the day, specifically because the Company’s management structure is undergoing a process of change and a new managing director was coming into post. The day was the first in a series of opportunities to enable all staff to share their opinions, hopes and fears, and collectively find answers to challenges faced.

The nature of KKP’s business can make it difficult for colleagues to spend time together as a team and this, in itself, had been identified as an obstacle to creative collaboration. Working closely with the new MD and drawing upon input from staff, Flo designed a session plan which included knowledge sharing, discussing and exploring competitor activity in the morning, and collective work on Company strategic priorities in the afternoon. The KKP team gamely stepped up and in a series of lively and uninhibited sessions, produced a SWOT and PESTLE analysis, a weighted list of priorities and an action plan with timelines and owners for each action.

John said: ‘Flo came into a business environment with which she was previously unfamiliar and taking a brave, imaginative lead, successfully encouraged staff to open up. KKP team members commented that ‘Flo’s engaging style encouraged a level of open-ness and willingness to input that was unexpected and highly valuable…as a result the day was informative and rewarding – and has been viewed as a positive first step in the change process needed.’

Here is what people say about our coaching sessions:

I am extremely grateful for your coaching/support which definitely impacted positively on the outcome [of the selection process]. I’m looking forward to continuing our sessions!

Newly appointed director, FE group of colleges, 2020

First of all, a big thank you for being so wonderful and supportive. The sessions really helped for self-assessment and realisation of some key aspects and also the things that you mentioned in the report. Many times, in the sessions I used to wonder whether the things that I am expressing were making any sense but you not only understood me but also helped me look at things in ways that I had not thought before. I cannot thank you enough for all your time, support and most importantly, your undivided attention.

Histopathologist, NHS, 2019

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Working with Flo has helped me move the walls back on my challenges and given me much-needed space to think. I am so much more resilient as a result.

Group coaching participant, Russell Group university, 2019

I wanted to write to you properly to thank you but when I saw your email I thought I must reply. I believe you have been hugely instrumental in getting me to this point and am so grateful for the sessions we had and what I learnt. You truly changed my mindset particularly with regard to eportfolio which was a major contributing factor. Many thanks again!

Cardiothoracic Consultant, NHS, 2019

This has been one of the best experiences of my professional life. Bringing things into view, into sharp relief – things I didn’t know or couldn’t see; the astute advice, tools, techniques and reading recommendations – these strategies have really made a huge difference and have really helped me to grow. Flo has helped me to work out who I am, what drives me, what my fears and insecurities are and how I can overcome these.

Professor and Assistant Pro-Vice Chancellor, Russell Group University, 2018

I now know that what makes me different is what makes me special. I have built up my confidence and subsequently a new career because I truly believe that what I have to offer is of value to others. One of the best bits of coaching has been your understanding and support and feeling like someone “gets me” and can provide feedback and insight. I have all the knowledge & tools I need to make a significant impact in the world!

Entrepreneur, France, 2018

I found the experience of having individual coaching one of the most transformative developmental activities that I have undertaken. I didn’t know what to expect but was surprised at how powerful it was to listen to myself and acknowledge what was happening in my working world. I feel much stronger and, more in control. Thank you…

Director, regional group of Higher Education Colleges, 2017

Flo has a wonderful, warm exploratory manner, allowing you to be honest and transparent in your assessment of your behaviour. She has some wicked tools to make it an engaging, reflective and fun session- and it’s an experience I would recommend to anyone, as a start-up, a growing business or in a corporate environment.

Mel C., photographer and business owner, 2017

The best bit of coaching for me has been doing the Subject-Object Interview. I made important discoveries… I feel much more comfortable with myself and others. I am more confident: I think differently and that’s ok. The result is that I have a better level of satisfaction and motivation and I finish things!

JD, Entrepreneur, France, 2016

Thanks for our sessions which I have found both enjoyable and extremely useful. I am sure the reflections you have enabled will stay as a reference point for me in years to come. Thank you for being the ‘real deal’!

Pathways Manager, Reading College, 2015

I would like to say a big THANK YOU to you for your time, effort, understanding and being so happy and positive each time we met, out of something that totally floored me something so good happened. I am sure there will be many more people in the future that will benefit from your wisdom.

Manager, local government, 2011

Here is what people say about our
mentoring sessions:

Thank you Flo for your support and brainstorming. I had no idea what to expect from the sessions but I have found it super useful and fun. They have inspired a different way of collaborating in my department which is very welcome.

Professor, Russell Group University, 2018

Flo’s calm and easy personality made me feel at ease and able to open up and talk freely about my business ideas and any concerns. She never allows her personal feelings to show through nor does she judge my approach or ideas. I would highly recommend Flo to anyone looking for mentoring or coaching, be it if they are starting up a new business or stuck in a bit of a rut and simply going through the motions and needing a fresh look at their business.

Josephine Horn – Orca Massage Therapy, 2016

Flo has a broad knowledge of designing and delivering communication interventions to support a large change programme. She is creative in how she delivers messages and helped me a lot with understanding the complex stakeholders in the organisation.

Deborah F., Organisational Development Consultant, 2014

Here is what people say about our workshops

Flo van Diemen provided a comprehensive and complete exposition of the importance of the role of dialogue in marketing communications. Her emphasis on creating and managing channels for feedback, for participation and for engagement was refreshing in a world where the tendency is to push the message aggressively. We are busy implementing the best of her suggestions with a blended approach embracing a refresh for our print, mail, web and social media presence in the world. We have also enlisted staff, trustees and volunteers in an internal communications effort designed to elicit and to respond to the creativity that all of our internal stakeholders can contribute. Flo’s contribution to this process comes highly recommended and I can endorse her friendly professionalism and willingness to genuinely add value to marketing communications in our voluntary and community sector. Het was goed gedaan. Wij zijn erg dankbaar!

Larry Gardiner, voluntary organisation

Here is what people say about our facilitation

From my point of view I felt like the team-day provided a constructive forum for us all to work through some of the concerns and priorities that have been hard to get past up to now. It really helped having Flo there managing the process with an outsider’s perspective too.

Student Services Administrator, Russell Group University, 2019

Flo’s engaging style encouraged a level of open-ness and willingness to input that was unexpected and highly valuable…as a result the day was informative and rewarding – and has been viewed as a positive first step in the change process needed.

Staff at KKP Management Consultants, 2014