Building a Coaching Culture

By Ganpy

How can leaders help build an effective coaching culture?

“The amount of time that people waste on failures, rather than putting that energy into another project, always amazes me. I have fun running the Virgin businesses, so a setback is never a bad experience, just a learning curve.”
– Sir Richard Branson.

In an earlier article, we talked about the hidden powers of corporate coaching. In this article, we are going to talk a little about how to go about building a coaching culture in your organization.

    What exactly is a coaching culture?

A coaching culture means creating an environment where you provide not only opportunities but also actively support your employees to learn new skills, thereby enabling them to become greater assets to the company. It also means such an organization emphasizes on its management why training, regular feedback, and opportunities for growth for its employees creates a more engaged and a more energized workforce.

Developing a coaching culture is not just about having a performance coaching resource available within the organization for a specific period of time. It is one of the more significant investment decisions that need to be made to build a sustainable coaching infrastructure.

    What does coaching culture enable you to do?

A well developed corporate coaching culture allows employees to:

1) Take responsibility for their own actions
2) Take risks and contribute their own creative ideas
3) Treat mistakes and setbacks as valuable learning experiences
4 Speak up, challenge and express conflicting views
5) Offer constructive and motivating feedback
6) Feel appreciated and that their contribution matters
7) Raise motivation and performance to achieve better results
8) Form cohesive and high achieving teams

    How do you go about building a coaching culture?

A coaching culture is a collective representation of the behavior of the employees in your organization, behavior which is driven by each individual’s beliefs, values, motivations, ethics, objectives and aspirations. However, as we all know, changing those influencing factors to drive new behaviors can take time. It is also a challenge to decide whether to invest in developing an internal stable of coaches or whether to invest in external coaches or whether a mix is the most appropriate.

If you are deciding to develop an internal stable of coaches, then consideration must be given to who is eligible to apply and how would the successful applicants be selected. This must be based upon the individual’s passion for coaching and not necessarily as the individual’s next development opportunity. It is not recommended to take a hierarchical approach and start at the top and work your way down through the organization for coaching. Also if internal coaches are being developed, then consideration must be given to the hierarchical perceptions e.g. could a professional trained coach who happens to be in a lower position (hierarchically) in the organization, reasonably coach someone in a higher position?

There will be issues around boundaries if the coaches are entirely from an in-house stable. That is where organizations can often find entering a partnership with another organization or a group of organizations can be useful so that coaches can be swapped into the other organizations. The practicalities of having an internal coaching stable also surround the availability and time off requirements to allow coaches to prepare and undertake their coaching in the right environment.

1. Lead By Example

Start with You, the Leader.
Engage a coach for yourself. Find someone who delivers exactly what you are hoping to provide for your team. If you achieve the desired results, then share your experiences with your team.

2. Ask the Right Questions

A coaching culture encourages employees to learn from their experience by exploring the right questions rather than telling them what to do and how to do it. Next time an employee has a challenge ask them open-ended questions that begin with “how” or “what.” For instance, “What would you have done differently? and “How can I support you?” This way you empower employees to come up with meaningful solutions. – Mo Chanmugham, Esq., CPCC, MGC Coaching

3. Start at the Top

Start by teaching senior leaders a few coaching basics — listening, asking questions, encouraging others to reflect and develop insights before taking action. Then guide them to coach their most respected team members. As these “influencers” gain traction from beingcoached, they will be open to learning and modeling the same coaching behaviors. Over time, a coaching culture will emerge. – Carolyn Esposito, Talent Pathways, Inc.

4. Just Do It

Coaching is a way of being, and as such, you can’t simply integrate it. You just have to understand what it is and do it. It’s not the same as adding carrots to your stew. So the key is to educate teams about what coaching is and then have them do it — coach each other. Have a weekly group coaching session with a coach to help answer questions and demonstrate. – Larry Boyer, Success Rockets LLC

5. Build A Coaching Routine

You can’t be a runner without putting in weekly miles, and you can’t have a coaching culture without a coaching routine. One high-performing sales manager at Salesforce creates a coaching culture by allocating an entire day each week to coaching. On Tuesdays her 10+ direct reports get 30 minutes of one-on-one coaching — time completely dedicated to their developmental needs. – Taylor Jacobson, TeamPossible: Achieve more of what matters

6. Make Managers Accountable For Developing Employees

Create a coaching culture by tying this activity to the company’s mission, and hold every manager accountable for coaching employees to help them master their jobs and learn new skills. Create a structured process with clear goals for coaching employees. Be sure to make time and resources available to guarantee success. Reward managers who meet or exceed these goals and reevaluate those who don’t. – Barbara Safani, Career Solvers

You may agree by now how much employee engagement is directly related to employee motivation. And what kind of critical role coaching plays in increasing your employee motivation.

So, if you haven’t done it yet, as a leader, it’s perhaps time for you to start putting together a plan for building a coaching culture for your organization.

You may already be behind the curve…