Building a Workplace Coaching Culture

Senior team coaching.jpg

Many organisations are now seeking to develop a ‘coaching culture’ as a way to empower staff, develop innate talent and so get better results at individual, team and organisational levels. This is usually a Human Resources or Organisational Development initiative and many well intentioned development programmes have foundered through a lack of:

Clarity of purpose (why)

It’s vital to be clear as an organisation what you want to achieve with any coaching initiative. This means identifying the critical success factors, a limited number (say 5 or possibly 6 at a maximum) of areas of activity in the organisation where success would mean significant performance improvement and results. These areas should be the focus of organisational attention and investment.

- what do we actually want to achieve with this initiative?
- what are the critical success factors?
- how/where should we best invest in implementing coaching to get the results we want?

Misunderstanding about what a coaching culture is and isn’t (what)

Coaching is a means to an end. A coaching conversation is intended to get a better, specific result. A coaching culture is intended to provide the systemic background that will allow for multiple, aligned and purposeful coaching conversations and makes the sum of these far greater than the individual coaching conversations themselves.

- coaching is not a cure-all, managers must still manage, leaders must still lead
- coaching above all is about performance and must be integrated into daily work conversations at all levels
- coaching should focus both on who gets coached and what gets coached to maximise performance
- coaching is not a remedial intervention (that’s a management conversation) but a performance intervention (coaching conversation) and this is a critical difference
- coaching is not hierarchical but collaborative in nature and therefore changes relationships
- coaching offers not just a different way of working with other people but a different way of relating to other people and this can be a significant, often difficult shift for some individuals
- coaching must have a noticeable positive impact on attitude, behaviours and results to be considered effective
it takes some time to embed a coaching culture, think several years or longer rather than months


Strategic thinking about the process of integrated coaching effectively as culture change (how)

Many coaching initiatives have been de-railed by poorly thought-through strategy. In fact, many so-called coaching strategic interventions are no more than tactical approaches to the introduction of coaching into the organisation. There are a number of questions that need to be addressed, including those raised by the issues mentioned above. In addition, there needs to be some clarity around:

- how deep should the change process go towards a coaching culture before we get where we need to be and how will we know when we get there?
- what is the time frame for each milestone towards this?
- how do we get buy-in from all employees (developing pull and push energies)?
- what barriers might there be to successful implementation, how and when might these occur and what can be done to minimise these?
- how do we instigate and manage multiple simultaneous coaching initiatives effectively?
- how do we ensure coaching integration with other initiatives such as leadership and management development, team development, and broader culture change initiatives?
- what advice, training and resources will be needed for training and development, process management, evaluation and ongoing monitoring for the initiative to embed permanently?
- how do we measure the return on our investment and expectations?

Some focussed thinking and consultancy on the above will enable an organisation to create a bespoke strategic coaching approach. It should meet the organisational goals and build appropriate coaching capacity at the most appropriate levels to raise performance and give significant return on both investment and expectation.