The BIGGBY® BOOST Coaching Advantage

Life You Love Laboratory
5 min readDec 15, 2022

By Brie Roper

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

At the BIGGBY® COFFEE Home Office, we offer a unique opportunity to every single employee, and we call it BOOST Coaching.

BOOST Coaching at BIGGBY® COFFEE began in January of 2018 as a bit of an experiment. We had been conducting an anonymous monthly survey to take the temperature of how things were going for the employees of the Home Office. The feedback we got was occasionally positive or neutral, but more often the comments were negative. However, there was a glimmer of hope in the negative feedback — much of it seemed like it could lead to productive action or even a simple solution if we only knew who was leaving the feedback. Often the responses indicated a breakdown in communication or a poorly managed change. It seemed that people didn’t feel like they could approach their supervisors with comments and concerns. Other responses made it clear that the way teammates talked to each other was quite different than how they each talked to their supervisor. And so, the two leaders of the BOOST Sphere — the department responsible for people and culture in the BIGGBY® Home Office — decided to sign everyone up for BOOST Coaching.

The simple beginning of coaching was that every person would have a 50-minute meeting between the employee and one of the two coaches. The conversation would be confidential. The point of the conversation would be to support the employee in finding ways to take productive action on their own behalf.

When the story gets told now, it can sound like it was a nice and simple answer to an obvious problem. The reality is that we took a big risk on a small hunch. Our intuition was telling us that we needed to help people talk about their fears and worries in the daylight, or we were going to miss out on the opportunity to support great employees in doing great work. If we didn’t find a way to engage people in hard conversations somewhere other than darkened corners of the office and the watercooler, we were going to see excellent people leave our company to give their talent, dedication, and heart to other employers.

“…we needed to help people talk about their fears and worries in the daylight, or we were going to miss out on the opportunity to support great employees in doing great work.”

Those early coaching sessions were sometimes clunky and quite heavy. People would come into the room and say, “I don’t even have anything to talk about so I don’t know why I’m here,” but then 50 minutes later they would be talking non-stop. Sometimes it was talking through their feelings of frustration left over from a particular meeting or interaction with their supervisor, other times it was talking about what they envisioned for their future, either at the Home Office or maybe working someplace else.

We originally thought we would conduct BIGGBY® BOOST Coaching for around 3 to 6 months, and then people would probably be ready to be done with it. What we didn’t expect was for nearly all our employees to request that BOOST Coaching continue in perpetuity. As it turned out, what we learned through our risky experiment, is that there is a real benefit to talking to someone within your workplace who is neither your boss nor your teammate. As soon as we recognized this need, we started working to formalize the process as much as possible while making sure that we kept it focused on the individual employee and directed at supporting them in their growth and development.

The most important step in systematizing BOOST Coaching was to create the BOOST Coaching Agreement which is a few sentences to help us get clear about what coaching is, but also what it is not. We learned early on that coaching can get easily mistaken for something more like therapy, but our coaches are not mental health care professionals. BIGGBY® BOOST Coaching creates a space and a develops a relationship for coaching, consulting, mentoring, and even socializing, but it cannot ever take the place of medical and mental health care. In addition to clarifying who the BOOST Coach is, we wrote out our promise of confidentiality — that any person being coached can expect confidentiality unless the coach has a significant concern for the safety and wellbeing of the person being coached, someone else, or the company.

What happens in coaching? Some people like to socialize during their coaching time, and the importance of this was never as clear as when our office went to remote-first work because of the pandemic. What used to be seen as “casual conversation” became something of great value to employees living in near isolation. Some people like to get opinions and problem-solving help in their coaching, so the coach will take on somewhat of a consultant role. The coach can also be a great resource in helping people stay accountable to goals and plans. The topic of conversation can be nearly anything that the coachee wants to bring to the session. It could be a book they are reading, or that they have started a new personal development plan with themselves. Sometimes they have questions about how decisions get made at work, or they are wanting support in starting a conversation with their supervisor about changing positions in the company. It is ultimately up to the coachee to bring forward the things they want to talk about during their coaching time.

As we conclude our 5th year of offering BOOST Coaching for all of our employees, sessions are happening monthly with around 90% of the BIGGBY® Home Office staff. People are free to request coaching changes, like switching to a 30-minute session rather than 50, or meeting with a different coach altogether. Some people ask for coaching on an as-needed basis as opposed to scheduled monthly. Some of our employees have requested to pause coaching or to not take part in the program, too.

BOOST Coaching began as a simple idea — to create a space where each employee within our Home Office can be cared for and supported as they are working toward building a life that they love. What began with a couple of well-intentioned people creating space to have hard conversations has now become a full-fledged benefit to our employees. Our coaches are now attending training to help them become more effective in their role.

BIGGBY® BOOST Coaching is one way that our team has learned to find a people-focused solution to a common business problem. We have a great hope that someday all businesses in America will recognize the advantage that comes with offering coaching to their employees.

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