SALN #23 Daniel Breitwieser Coaching at Scale

SALN #23 – Daniel Breitwieser (CoachHub): Coaching through platforms.

Lesezeit: 9 Minuten

Mentoring and coaching are the oldest types of education and have existed for as long as humanity has. The complexity of modern business and the increased use of technology in coaching have contributed to a rebirth in business coaching in recent decades.

I’m here with Daniel Breitwieser, employee #4 at CoachHub and Director of Automotive. A startup just a few years ago, CoachHub today employs over 600 people throughout the globe and provides one of the largest digital coaching platforms in the world.

Daniel Breitwieser, Director Automotive bei CoachHub
Daniel Breitwieser, Director Automotive bei CoachHub

Welcome, Daniel. There has never been a more exciting time to be a part of the automobile business than right now. However, professional development programmes and in-house education aren’t sufficient to get workers ready for the transitions. How can coaching contribute to this process?

When you talk to professionals at conferences and study research on the subject, one thing becomes abundantly clear: coaching is transformation. Coaching is about change. Everything else is knowledge acquisition and the development of certain hard skills. They are crucial in everyday business. However, altering a company model requires changing attitudes and ideas, some of which have become dysfunctional in the new reality.

If we can successfully modify our beliefs, attitudes, and mindsets, we can also change our behaviour. If behaviour must be modified as part of a transition, procedures that go deep enough are required.

Only coaching goes deep enough.

Because a skilled coach not only deals with today, but also initiates processes that will last for hours and months. And these lead one hundred percent to a change in the coachee, to a transformation.

Thus, coaching may help change attitudes and ways of thinking, and thus behaviour. And, if managers’ and employees’ conduct changes, does the organisation profoundly change?

Exactly so.

So, for the person who coaches, their experience in business as well as their education are particularly important for success. How do you recognise a good coach?

That’s a very good question, Steffen.

Coaches are like sand on the sea today. And that’s also a problem because coaching is not a protected job title. At CoachHub, we focus on systemic business coaching. I have run through the appropriate certifications myself.

We work exclusively with systemically certified coaches.

For this purpose, there are extraordinarily strong quality criteria that accredited coaches must follow, which are defined, trained, and monitored by international coaching associations such as the ICF, ECA, and EMCC. The training usually lasts 12 months. And it is expensive. There, the prospective coach learns the tools of the profession, including a repertory of questioning tactics and activities, the coaching process, first-hand experience, and feedback from experienced coaches.

Our coaches have worked as managers for at least 6 years and have given at least 500 paid coaching hours. On average, even around 1,000 hours.

It is important to have worked with employees at all levels.

And we’re doing quite well with this mix.

We see this in our results: In thousands of sessions, our average session rating is 4.9/5. We are known in the industry for our excellent coaching quality. And on the other hand, for the large international coverage. We currently have over 3,500 coaches from 70 nations coaching in over 60 languages in our pool.

Especially in transformation projects, you should pay double attention to quality.

You were employee number four when it all started.

CoachHub officially launched in August 2018.

I joined at the end of September 2018. As part of the founding family, so to speak.

The Niebelschütz brothers are entrepreneurs through and through but have also had stays at McKinsey and LinkedIn. As young leaders, they themselves benefited from coaching. And then they asked themselves the question: Hey, why do some of the coaches fly around the world and why is it so super difficult to find a coach, even though it’s such a valuable tool? Why is coaching only available for top executives and not across the board?

And in 2018, at a time when digital business models were springing up, they thought: Let’s try virtualizing it using a video engine and see how corporate clients react.

And that’s how CoachHub was launched, and I joined early.

We soon got paying clients and produced an excellent product. However, there was considerable skepticism at first, notably in Germany: is video coaching possible?

Our coaches, on the other hand, exhibited quality, and consequently, clients were delighted, and we were able to attract and obtain significant investments early on.

That was the basis of CoachHub.

We then scaled faster than others in Europe, especially in Germany.

We have tripled due to Corona and the acceptance of video as a common tool. We bought MoovOne, France’s largest player, in 2021. This has given us an additional lift. Today, we can say that with pride. There are significant players in the United States, but when it comes to worldwide presence, we are currently at the forefront.

And that’s fun.

How important is a global footprint?

We have scaled in many markets, made two acquisitions, and now have a solid base.

In 2022, we opened our office in New York. Today, we have offices in all major markets in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, and Singapore. With our global pool of coaches in over 70 countries, we can perfectly serve global players from Germany and around the world to reach the critical masses needed for transformation everywhere.

We coach around the clock. In CoachHub, the sun never sets.

How has the product evolved from a coaching pool with a video platform?

For the first time, platforms offer the opportunity to scale coaching.

I have yet to come across a single company that has attempted to expand coaching through a platform that has either been really successful or has not encountered tremendous obstacles or expenses.

Because you must find the coach pool first. Then you must match the right coaches for the customers’ managers and employees. This is not feasible manually for thousands of employees. But on a digital platform, it’s doable. So, we don’t just have a coaching video, but a matching algorithm that has improved over the years.

This means that no matter if 500 people want coaching or 5,000, we can handle it. Each coachee can find his coach at the same time. Accordingly, we have an efficiency in this process.

Thus, our clients can use coaching as a strategic, proactive and systematic tool to reach large numbers of people to develop new skills and appropriate behaviors across the board.

And at a higher speed than was previously possible.

There are other features on the platform: the location assessment based on 18 focus topics, which supports self-reflection.

Alternatively, there is the CoachHub Academy. These are content modules with brief learning nuggets, such as transformational leadership, positive psychology, problem solving, empowerment, performance, communication, and much more, i.e. all the power abilities that are truly required in a transformation process. This includes movies, exercises, and articles. We created original content through our Coaching Lab and collaborated with Harvard Business Review. As a result, hundreds of articles and tools may be utilised in between sessions to deepen the work on the themes presented. Our platform and all of our content are available in 15 different languages.

Coachees can book their sessions directly via the platform. As a rule, this is 45 minutes every two weeks. We offer an unlimited coaching model, so you can book as many sessions as you need. We also have coachees who do up to four or more sessions a month.

For the company, our customers, we offer a dashboard that offers analyses of strengths and weaknesses in the company, how skills develop, feedback on the coaching sessions and much more. Of course, everything complies with data protection regulations and works councils.

We are, so to speak, the German engineers of scalable coaching.

The founders had their personal experience with coaching. Have you personally benefited from coaching?

We practice what we preach.

You can only talk honestly about coaching if you experience it. Every CoachHub employee can be coached.

Personally, I do about two coaching sessions a month since the beginning of my time at CoachHub. For me, it’s become part of my setup.

At CoachHub, everything is turned upside down here every 6 months: new strategy, new colleagues, new product features – all this is completely normal for us. And coaching helps me to find my compass and to grow and perform continuously in this turbo.

Can you give us an example of what has changed?

Coaching has helped me tremendously, both professionally and personally. Without coaching, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Because in my role at CoachHub, I had to grow quickly.

I am 29 and responsible for large projects in the seven-figure range, sometimes up to 50 people work on large accounts that I manage. Prioritizing where I go in and don’t go is important for my personal performance. And, of course, there are also internal political issues. Having my North Star in the process, knowing what’s important and what I can ignore, keeps me on track.

And it’s always about my career goals and how I achieve them.

It’s about me.

Two weeks ago I had my last double lesson. And this was about how I can improve my performance. Procrasticity, communication and time management – are also always a hot topic. In the meantime, I can no longer imagine my coach from my life.

Coaching has given you a guideline – despite high pressure and high complexity.

Exactly, it’s also about performance.

You have to and there is no other way. You must find a way to deal with certain things – I don’t want to say ignore, but simple with them. And that’s where the ego can often get in the way. There are always topics that can throw you off track. And when that happens, it takes longer for you to get back to your performance or for you to come back to yourself, to be fully focused on things again.

And coaching over the last four and a half years has helped me to develop my compass and follow it.

Despite all that happens, to keep reminding yourself that you are on the right track – and if not, to adjust things. It is much easier to understand that there is not always a clear answer, but certain parts fit together and there are adjusting screws. You just have to find them, and then go in and make a difference.

My coach helps me immensely in this.

You’ve been working for the automotive industry for years. The automotive industry has the same complexity and goal pursuit issue. How do you see the topic of coaching via a platform, “Coaching at Scale”, in the transformation process in the automotive industry?

The major customers I look for are the OEMs and occasionally Tier-1 suppliers. We already work globally with most of the five largest OEMs in the world, as well as many Tier 1 & Tier 2 suppliers – in various forms.

It is becoming more and more apparent how much our model is also suitable for this industry. How well our coaches fit and how up-to-date our concept is. It closes a real gap in the change management portfolio. We provide support in a wide variety of applications: from the start-up of production of the new e-model at the Cologne plant as part of an enormous Re&Upskilling initiative by Ford (link to the case study) to the sales transformation of Toyota and the support of IAV towards a tech solutions provider (link to the case study). In many analyses, we see that employees show a strong change in terms of change readiness after just a few months of 1:1 coaching.

Because, of course, the industry is undergoing one of the greatest transformations in its history. Especially here in Germany.

That’s why I’m fascinated and motivated to work in this industry.

There are so many jobs involved.

Of course, there are one or two companies here that are at the forefront when it comes to electric drive or new mobility, or whose products are already in high demand. But if we look at the big OEMs, then of course it’s a huge feat of strength for everyone, which you won’t win over the coming months, but it’s more of a marathon.

But I believe that now is the time to set an important course for the coming years. And that’s exactly where it’s a lot of fun to work with.

Coaching can be a game changer in transformation.

Because transformations fail or succeed not because of budgets or strategy, but because of the “resistance to change”, or, as they say in German, because of the resistance to change.

And when it comes to management behavior and cultural issues in general, you have to go into depth to really touch them and accelerate behavioral change. That’s why coaching in automotive is so important.

And today, we can scale coaching – just like the auto industry scaled everything. We use the matching algorithm and the video platform to get efficiencies into the process. And in doing so, we improve quality because the entire process is data-based and we identify and implement quality improvement very quickly.

Changing mindsets to change behavior to change the business model at the end of the day.

Exactly, there are many studies, including those by BCG and McKinsey, that have examined the success of transformation programs. 70-80% of the programmes examined were less successful than the companies had set out to do.

And then again, there are studies on programs that have worked with coaching and had more success, even if it was difficult to scale coaching. The teams with executives who were coached over a longer period of time were more successful and satisfied.

Because at the end of the day, there’s a lot of talk about transformation, but it’s not easy to give walk-the-talk and a real role model over a long period of time.

There is not a single executive in automotive that I have spoken to recently who has denied the effectiveness of coaching.

I was recently at a conference where a battery manufacturing executive said shortly after I spoke to him about it: “You don’t need to talk any further, culture and organizational development are my biggest construction sites. The old world meets a new one. We see this every day. We need coaching, not just for our leaders, but for everyone.”

Behaviors that have developed over the last 30 to 40 years must now be broken. It’s a huge process. At the same time, you need external people who have a certain skill set. Some of these come from other generations and often from foreign industries. There’s just often a clash. And we see this in the development of batteries, but above all in the establishment of large software organizations at the major OEMs. This requires completely new approaches.

Another manager from a software team of a premium OEM also told me that they have great challenges in implementing agile structures. The change from hierarchical, top-down leadership behavior and the loss of status, power and influence is difficult for many. She reported on the many trainings and workshops they conduct and how difficult it is to make the interventions sustainable.

She said that the behavior change is not coming to the streets. In the past, it has worked to wait a little longer for changes. But with today’s complexity and the simultaneous pressure on companies to succeed, rapid behavioral change is needed to accelerate delivery timelines and innovation cycles. .

And this is exactly where “coaching at scale” is game change for the automotive industry, because behavioral changes can become entrenched more quickly.

Okay, Daniel, thanks so far. You are now allowed to write a letter that must be read by all board members in the auto industry. What would you write?

So, first of all, I would like to congratulate everyone on the great success of the last few years. And at the same time, I would point out that an upgrade of the mental software is now needed. I also call this an upgrade of the mental operating system.

In principle, I compare this to our DNA. This is complex, and is the way it is, because it has matured over decades and sometimes even longer. And parts of this DNA will still work in the future and other parts of the DNS will no longer work.

And the top executives know that too. I recently had the pleasure of meeting the CEO of Vinfast at a conference. New players are entering the market, from Vietnam or China, with different ways of thinking that are super agile, have great speed, that good software engineers still have around them and more. We see the declining market share of German OEMs in China and know what to expect.

And that’s why we not only need the upgrade, but it has to come quickly.

And we, at CoachHub, can do the upgrade at record speed because we enable scaling and reach the critical mass needed to make new ways of thinking and behaving effective in daily doing.

Top executives in Germany talk so much in football analogies. Top teams, top athletes need top coaches. And we can also bring this model from competitive sports to the automotive transformation.

Thank you, Daniel, for this exciting conversation. The topic of “Coaching at Scale” in automotive software projects hits a nerve. We should go into this in more detail in the near future.

I also had a lot of fun doing it. And yes: Coaching at scale, especially in software projects, is super hot.

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