You cannot transmit wisdom and insight to another person. The seed is already there. A good teacher touches the seed, allowing it to wake up, to sprout, and to grow.~ThichNhatHanh
Work-life balance is a common challenge faced by employees in the Corporate world. The traffic police force too is impacted by this challenge. Coaching can help in ameliorating the situation. For the new workplace, coaching is a development tool which is future-focused and outcome oriented and can be successfully used for the benefit of all sections of the society.
In today’s VUCA world, the need to attain work-life balance cuts across all sections of the society. The demands on working professionals are huge and the need to live a fuller life makes them to want a balance on the professional and the personal front. This holds true especially for the traffic police too who work long arduous hours to fulfill their commitments towards helping the society in maintaining law and order every day -24x7.
In an endeavor to establish coaching as an integral part of learning and development in the society, the ICF Mumbai chapter wanted to make a difference to the city of Mumbai and what better organization to work with than the Traffic Police. The ICF Mumbai chapter, a non-profit individual membership organization, a local chapter of the International Coach Federation, formed by professionals in India who practice and teach business and personal coaching, took an initiative towards facilitating the work-life balance of the police personnel. With support from the Times Foundation, the initiative was instrumental in helping the chapter interact with the Mumbai traffic police and arrange for Group Coaching of 11 officers in Navi Mumbai.
Knowing the Target group-Traffic Police Personnel
Allow experience without judgment - Gita Bellin
Dr. Arvind Agrawal, executive coach and leadership consultant from the Chapter, met a few senior traffic police inspectors. Through the interviews, it was established that the officers were in this profession by choice and with the intention to serve their country. They rotate between departments and their duties are diverse and not just restricted to managing and directing Mumbai’s traffic. On duty, a police officer deals with many adversities – challenging and dangerous situations that often involve risking their own lives. In the service of society, a police officer is so caught up that there is a lack of opportunity to pursue basic human interests as an individual, and give time to family and friends. The ICF Mumbai chapter was keen to support them to reflect and discover solutions to manage their time more efficiently so that they are able to spend time with their families and also fulfill their duties towards the society.
Consequently, the Chapter felt that a group coaching workshop with the theme of “Work-Life Balance” would be beneficial to the police. Accordingly, a group coaching session was held on the morning of February 24th, 2016 to support the police officers in Navi Mumbai, for them to reflect and identify their own strengths and find solutions that guarantee a happy and balanced life.
The Coaching Workshop
The ICF Chapter team consisting of Dr. Arvind Agrawal, Ashu Khanna, Yogesh Patgaonkar and self (all are Professional Certified Coaches –PCC), held the workshop with 11 traffic police officers who head various traffic police chowkies in the suburbs of Navi Mumbai. With the intent of having an interactive workshop, the workshop kicked off with narrations of two success stories from each traffic police officer. Their experiences ranged from catching thieves, looking after abandoned children-eventually uniting them with their families, attending to sick inmates etc. A young lady officer shared how she passed the Exams to be where she is today despite being a mother of a 2 months old baby. Their stories of courage and valor brought out the passion they have for their role of serving the society and going beyond the call of duty. Further, they gave us deep insights how intelligently they resolved challenging cases and did so voluntarily without being pressured by their superiors. A common factor that motivates these young police officers is their zeal to work to make the society a better place to live for families and work for the nation. As a coach, it was humbling to know the kind of challenging cases such young police officers manage in their service.
After such intriguing discussions, the topic of “Work-Life Balance” was introduced to the group. What does work-life balance mean for them? Many of the officers said that they were working 24X7 and most of the times their families faced the brunt of this. In smaller groups, the officers were then asked to share instances where they had been able to strike a balance between their personal and professional lives. Being fully conscious of the constraints of the system, the discussions were kept open and free flowing to support the officers reflect and discover solutions to manage their time more efficiently. Incisive questions were asked to align the officers with their strengths and the power of choice that they have exhibited in their profession and to prompt them to choose what they could do differently to bring in some work-life balance into their lives or what they could do to manage their time better? Such questions resulted in reflections and discussions that led the police officers to come up with actions relevant to their situations.
This small group exercise gave the officers a safe space to share, discuss and openly express their views. The coaching process seemed to be working within this group of traffic police officers because of trust, mutual support, and shared values. A deep realization for the officers was that they are not alone facing the challenge of work-life balance. The coaches, using their coaching presence constantly evoked them to look at ways they can spend more time with their families without impacting their work, which gave them the confidence to freely communicate amongst themselves. The coaches were dancing in the moment and going with the flow while asking powerful questions. Additionally, each group also explored what they could do to attain a balance in their work and professional lives - things that are in their own control? The workshop concluded with each officer committing to one action that they would adopt in their daily routine to bring a balance between work-life: what I will do differently hereafter….. ' I commit…...’. The thought provoking questions continuously asked by the coaches had paid off dividends in the form of some of the commitments made by the officers. This was the tipping point for the police officers for change. For example, one officer said that he would go for a morning walk with his son. Yet another said that he would take his family for a short holiday. The officers cheered each other to acknowledge and encourage the commitments. The shift experienced was that there was awareness amongst the police officers, that to bring the balance in their daily lives is entirely in their control and a CAN DO IT attitude.
It was a moment of pride for each officer to discover a pathway to bring some happiness to their families without impacting their duties towards the society. For the coaches, it was extremely gratifying to see these police officers take a leap of faith to commit to create a fuller life. It was the collective wisdom of the officers that brought out the various ways to bring work-life balance in their hectic routine. Coaching indeed is a powerful intervention….Each person holds so much power within himself or herself that needs to be let out. Sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching, and the greatest things can happen.- Pete Carroll
The ICF Mumbai Chapter is grateful to Sumed Haralkar of Times Foundations for being an enabler for this coaching workshop with the traffic police officers of Navi Mumbai.