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Environment Agency: Leadership & Behavioural Change

Environment agency


Through personal reviews and appraisals, Chris, an Executive within the Environment Agency, had become aware that his colleagues sometimes found him challenging – and he wanted to become more approachable. He was aware, that although he had achieved considerable success in his career up to this point, this perception was occasionally placing a barrier between him and others.

In the past, Chris had undertaken traditional management training courses which had provided some benefits. However, they did not succeed in addressing the underlying issues and his inter- personal skills were still his relative area of weakness. Hence, keen to be more effective in his role and to remove any blocks to his career development, Chris undertook a series of one-to-one sessions with Criterion Partnership Director, Richard Hunter.


  • Improved confidence in own performance
  • Increased ability to forge new and maintain current relationships
  • Enhanced and developed current strengths and skillset

Aims & Approach

“The aim is for the client to look at past experiences and to understand how they influence the present. Often, the answers to the big questions such as, ‘how did I become this type of person?’ are to do with the first five to seven years of someone’s life. So in the early sessions it is mostly about me listening. Everything then begins to suddenly fall into place for the client. It’s not unusual for someone in their 40’s to say they are realising these things for the first time.”

Richard Hunter, Criterion Partnership

Having previously worked with The Environment Agency on a number of projects, the senior HR team were aware of our coaching programme, which  was then recommended and offered to Chris.

One-to-one coaching takes an in-depth look at various aspects of a person’s life with the specific objective of addressing and focus on how you are able to react in a business context. Criterion Partnership’s approach deals with ways in which the past impacts on the present and ways in which changes in the present can be managed to shape the future. Uncovering the causes of present behavioural tendencies means exploring personal history as well as current business events. For these reasons it is important that the client feels completely at ease with their coach.

Prior to starting the sessions, our lead consultant, arranged an informal meeting with Chris. This gave both parties the opportunity to meet and to discuss the approach, in order to determine whether this form of coaching would be of benefit.

Confidentiality and trust are key factors in ensuring the most can be gained from the sessions. As such, the consultant made it clear that nothing raised during the sessions would be fed back to Chris’ managers. A general review of progress can be provided to the client’s company, but no details of the discussion are disclosed.

Commenting on the consultant’s style, Chris said: “Richard was very calm and measured. He was also very perceptive. He was able to put his finger on key points that would prove to be very important in subsequent discussions.”

As well as discussions, Richard asked Chris to carry out some exercises, which included Chris imagining he was writing a book about his life:

“I had to write the chapter headings of my life,” explained Chris. “This led to quite a lot of discussion centring on my formative experiences. We also talked about current events, both personal and at work. It was a very fluid process. It is like counselling in a business context. At times the sessions unlocked emotions in a way that I wasn’t expecting, but Richard was extremely reassuring.”

The Results

When asked if the coaching was what he expected, Chris said: “In terms of process, yes, but in terms of outcome, no. I actually gained more from it than I thought I would. It was an incredibly useful exercise which led to a fairly fundamental change.”

“I now have a much better understanding of myself, my experiences and why I am like I am, which has helped me be more effective in my role. It gives you a feeling of confidence, calmness and acceptance of yourself, which translates into all your interactions with people.”

Since working with Richard, Chris has undertaken a new role. Now a Director, Chris has had to meet a lot of new people, something he used to find challenging:

“I didn’t find it terribly easy to forge new relationships, but now I feel a lot more at ease which, in turn, has helped people feel more comfortable with me. I believe the benefits will be long lasting. I wouldn’t want to take it for granted though, so I will keep revisiting the skills that I developed with Richard. ”

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