Community Coaching: DLL and Groendomein Wasven

Community Coaching Program

What can I do for society? It is a question that occurred to Maarten Viskaal, working at DLL, at the time of the corona pandemic. At the same time, Alfred van Kempen, board chairman of Wasven had an important question of a different nature. The two did not know each other, but when that changed through the Community Coaching Program, they turned out to have much in common.

Ask Alfred what Wasven actually is and he laughs. Indeed, that was the question with which he signed up for the Community Coaching Program of Together for Eindhoven. "It once started as a civic initiative to preserve and improve its own green environment. Now it is a community organization with a supervisory board, countless volunteers, skilled workers in hospitality, bakery, horticultural nature management, people with intellectual disabilities and caregivers. With such a large organization and its many components, for a while we did not have a unified answer to the question: what does the Wasven stand for and how do we translate that into our services?"

Putting expertise to good use

The step to participate in the Community Coaching Program was therefore a logical one. In the program, business professionals coach and guide social organizations in the Brainport region with their objectives. Skill-based volunteering is also known as this: during working hours, employees may use their expertise for a good cause.

So does Maarten, Head of Internal Audit at DLL."Within our company there is a lot of attention to community involvement. We are encouraged to devote two working days a year to it. One of the opportunities was to work as a coach in the Community Coaching Program. That seemed interesting to me. I also hoped it would give me a fresh, new perspective on my own work and, in general, on society. The assignment I got was at the Wasven, which I really liked because I live close to it."

A strong commitment

As part of the program, Together for Eindhoven organizes a number of strategy and knowledge sessions to clarify the social organization's question.

There is a strong commitment from both sides, with Samen voor Eindhoven taking the lead. Alfred and Maarten were on the same page fairly quickly and were able to get to work quickly. "In an initial conversation with Alfred, I wanted to find out what the needs were. Why is the question there? Where does it come from and did Alfred have any ideas of his own? My role as a coach was to try to release energy and look at angles to tread new paths. Facilitating and not leading too fast, but starting from the strength of the organization itself."

What followed was a course of many conversations. Maarten looked for colleagues in his company who could help him. "We needed communication expertise for the trajectory, and within DLL I found a number of colleagues who immediately wanted to help enthusiastically. This allowed us to quickly get into implementation mode." The team talked to more than 20 people in all kinds of layers of the Wasven to get a good picture of the organization. "It was also really fun to work with DLL employees in this project that I didn't know very well before. It allowed me to expand my internal network and experience a sense of team spirit during the period when we were 'housebound' due to the corona pandemic."

A fresh look

For Alfred, the fresh perspective of Maarten and his colleagues was very pleasant. "You break out of your own thinking patterns this way and hatches open that were previously closed. When people look at you with an external view and understand communication, that is very valuable. The project-based approach from the community-coach program is also useful for social organizations like ours, and the time schedule was manageable. We ultimately wanted to have a clear story in which clients, employees and participants would recognize themselves and we really succeeded. Together we did it and that's the beauty of it."

As a coach, Maarten has contributed to that success. "I have learned a few things myself. I see how powerful it can be if you can inspire people. At the Wasven, I also saw that the enormous passion and drive that people have brings job satisfaction. That inspired me. Wanting to do good is also increasingly common in companies like ours. Purpose in business gives energy."

Text: Annemieke Dubbeldeman