External coaching


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External coaching – support for managers and employees based on feedback from        a neutral assessor, development of employee potential.

External coaching is suitable for managers, mainly TOP managers (such as IKEA 1997), but    we have excellent experience also with middle management ‘on the spot’ coaching.

In 1999 we successfully implemented the joint project ‘External On the Spot Coaching’ in Volkswagen Slovakia, a.s.


During the March 2001 New Trends in Personnel Management conference the project was nominated for the prestigious HR OSCAR Awards 2000 prize as one    of the four best personnel projects in Slovakia.

The conference competition were organised by MPG 

External ‘On the spot’ Coaching

Goals, Means, Service Recipients, Premises and Definition:

Project Goal

Help (give support ‘on the spot’) supervisors in their management work and thereby support forming a strong team.


The means is the coaching by an independent expert (consultant). The coaching may   be a counselling process, consultations and training in the premises designed for this purpose and if needed, it takes place in the workplace.

Range of direct recipients of the service

Supervisors (SV) – the bottom link in the Volkswagen Slovakia, a.s. management chain

Premises we base the project on

  • a Volkswagen executive (supervisor) is an example to subordinates
  • independent coach provides support without interfering with SV’s responsibilities and competencies
  • external coaching is a voluntary help
  • coaching is a means for getting independence and support of skills of the   executive (SV)
  • coaching is a complement to and ‘superstructure’ of training and qualification activities

Definition of coaching for VW needs

(origin in the English word ‘to coach’: continuous, permanent preparation, training). Coaching is an approach helping executives increase quality of their work in two basic directions: in achieving the optimal performance and in supporting personal potential. Productivity-wise, it focuses on a permanent stabilized performance and an innovative approach to the working process. In terms of the executive’s  needs coaching deals   with managerial competencies development, questions pertaining to an identification   with the working position and corporate culture, personal satisfaction, increasing inspiration, mental hygiene and career development of supervisors.

Project phasing, ranges of external coaching and personnel coverage

Phase 1: information on coaching – 3 weeks (May 1999)
Phase 2: first contact – creating a coach-supervisors agreement – 2 months      (June-July 1999)
Phase 3: building a relationship – creating an atmosphere of psychological safety – 3 months (August, September, October 1999)
Phase 4: addressing issues – real assistance to supervisors in interaction with their subordinates – from November 1999
Phase 5: feedback initiated mostly by the coach and focused on Supervisor’s      managing skills – from January 2000
Phase 6: supervisor development, individual development programmes for supervisors – from May 2000

Ranges of external coaching for SV

1. Addressing issues in the workplace
2. Feedback
3. Personal and competence development, career planning
4. Mental hygiene and overlapping private and professional spheres

Personnel coverage of the project

An external coach is a human resources specialist, impartial and trained in alternative conflict resolution. The coach may have also other roles: trainer, facilitator, tutor,      and in justified cases the coach may also be a mediator in conflicts between individuals   or teams.

Brief description of the Volkswagen project

In the recent past, a model was sought in the Volkswagen Slovakia, a.s. plant in Bratislava of helping young managers and providing support and facilitating conditions for personal development of the more experience staff (supervisors). The need for new executive staff and pressure on the quality of the available staff are growing with the expansion of Volkswagen in Slovakia. The outlines of a solution sought jointly by Ing. Jaroslav Holeček, Member of the Board in charge of personnel affairs, Volkswagen Slovakia, a.s. and Dr. Vladimír Labáth,  started to be seen in 1998.

The result of their cooperation was an ‘on the spot’ coaching model. This model of a new form of training and counselling had never been tested in practice in Slovakia before. Mgr. Roland Wagner was invited to participate in the launch of the pilot project since he had experience from both sides, both as an external counsellor and trainer, as well as a training manager and Human Resources manager (previously in IKEA). The external coach works in the workplace four business days per week, currently in his sixth year already.

Coaching in this sense may be defined as an approach helping the executive improve quality of his/her work in three basic dimensions: achieving the optimal performance, improving interpersonal dimension of the executive work and support of personal potential. In terms of productivity, it focuses on a stable performance and innovative approach to the working process. As to interpersonal communication, coaching helps understand the interactions, learning new skills, and develops managerial competencies. From the point of needs of the executive person it deals with issues of the identification with the work position and organisational culture, dimension of personal satisfaction, development of creativity, application of principles of mental hygiene, and career growth of supervisors.

The external ‘on the spot’ coaching project has several phases. To achieve a situation when managers come to the coach voluntarily and as their own initiative requires a number of steps. Without sufficient information, mutual support and belief that coaching is a meaningful activity nobody can be expected to voluntarily be subjected to feedback, behaviour analysis, and individual development programmes.

The beginnings of the project were characterised by unwillingness to accept new things, perhaps even concerns, Even though there were conditions for individual coaching, the interest on the part supervisors was sporadic. Though it proved beneficial to offer   training in coaching the direct subordinate, the breaking point occurred when the coach started attending the shift staff meetings regularly and after the meeting there was time to discuss practical problems. Then they learned how to solve them, or trained management skills. This form of having a coach and a coached person sitting together in a natural working environment proved to be the optimal way for the whole team of supervisors. This model strengthens both the team work and the dynamics of the whole team on the shift. Also a combination of group and individual coaching is very good and effective. Individual coaching is provided in the form of practicing and counselling, and compared to the common form of corporate training is has one special dimension: individual approach. Coaching is based on trust, a relationship, training, but also feedback. But most of all, coaching must be based on the will of  the coached person to want to change something about him/herself.


The ‘on the spot’ coaching model originated as a response to insufficiently used Araining gains in practice. The barriers in implementing the learned skills and knowledge are no new phenomenon. The ‘on the spot’ coaching as long-term support proves to be a highly effective method of intensive working with managers of all levels. In November 2000 it was successfully introduced also in the lacquering plant and its expansion to other units is being considered. We decided to objectively evaluate its effectiveness by a survey that we commissioned the UK Pedagogical Faculty in Bratislava to carry out. The result  of the survey should be available by 31 March 2001.


Ing. Jaroslav Holeček
PaedDr. Vladimír Labáth
Ing. Monika Pavláková
Mgr. Roland Wagner

Bratislava, 1 March 2001

Effectiveness of External Coaching in Volkswagen Slovakia, a.s. Survey:

"115 subordinates have expressed an opinion that after their superior officials (supervisors) completed the coaching their style of management has improved, they have become more effective in delegating tasks, their behaviour changed, they are more sensitive towards the needs of their subordinates. After a comprehensive evaluation of the survey we can conclude that not only supervisors but also their subordinates have a positive perception of coaching."

Zuzana Susová: External Coaching Analysis, May 2001  

..."based on a successful project and excellent cooperation with VW Slovakia, a.s. we started with external ‘on the spot’ coaching also at the coach-building plant in May 2001...”

Roland Wagner, Otto Kovarik, VW external coaches  


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