We all agree that the skills needed for an organization to thrive and grow today are wildly different from those that were needed even a decade back. The world is changing rapidly and to stay competitive companies need employees who are focused yet adaptable to changing circumstances. The old directive style of – ‘Do what I tell you’ leadership is no longer effective. These shifts in the organizational landscape have led to the rise of coaching as a field and also to the development of a Coaching Culture in organizations.
What is a Coaching Culture?
Before we address how to build a Coaching Culture, it is imperative to define what we mean by a Coaching Culture.
A Coaching culture is developed when an organization applies the principles and practices of coaching across all levels of the organization. As it can be imagines a coaching culture involves several seismic shifts in the way an organization works.
First and foremost, in a coaching culture, leaders and managers do not tell juniors what they should do. Instead they work hand in hand to come up with collaborative solutions. Secondly, a coaching culture does not focus on merely increasing knowledge and skills. It works at a deeper level of mindset and attitude change. This leads to more long-lasting, permanent changes in individual behavior as well as the performance of an organization.
A coaching culture also involves less focus on training and more focus on mentoring, with employees being provided with ongoing continuous feedback. The days of isolated annual appraisals and sporadic feedback are firmly left in the past when an organization adopts a coaching culture.
A coaching culture therefore brings about far-reaching changes in how an organization works and cannot be built overnight.
How to Build a Coaching Culture
So, how exactly can one build a Coaching Culture in an organization? Some simple but obvious steps are required to not just start but sustain a coaching culture
- Start from the Top: As with any other organizational initiative, developing a coaching culture has to start from the top management. The senior managers and leaders need to convinced that coaching works and that a coaching culture can bring about lasting changes. When senior level leaders develop coaching skills and take the coaching conversations to their team meetings and one on one interactions, it percolates down to all levels of the organization. They senior management truly has to be the vanguard of the development of a coaching culture
- Be clear about the Why of Coaching and communicate it – Building a coaching culture truly means bringing home the fact the coaching is a universal skill and collective responsibility. It does not belong in the domain of HR alone. It is also imperative to define the why – make people across the organisation see that coaching can impact employee productivity, engagement as well as performance. Once employees are aware of the changes a coaching culture will bring it will be far easier for them to take ownership for coaching as well.
- Bring in External Coaches – When an organization starts to build a coaching culture, it may not have enough internal resources available to coach employees across the organization. At this point it is important to bring in external coaches who can perform dual tasks. At one level they would need to act as coaches to employees while at another level external coaches will be needed to upskill senior leaders and HR personnel in the art and science of coaching.
- Develop Internal Coaches – A Coaching Culture definitely requires an organization to invest in building coaching skills in-house. Most organizations with a robust coaching culture invest heavily in developing the coaching skills of employees across functions and levels. The aim is to provide all employees easy access to a coach who they can speak to whenever faced with a hurdle. This often involves hiring coaches in full time roles and brining in coaching KPI’s for those who are available to coach only part -time.
- Create Accountability – A coaching culture truly feels different and once in place will be easy to see at work. However, building this culture is a process. If the words coaching culture have to be meaningful and have to effect change, it is important to be able to define and measure the changes being brought about. Organizations employ many methods to measure the touch points of a coaching culture. These can be as simple as periodically asking employees how many times they are feeling coached. An organization can also map all points of transition for an employee and make sure a coach is available at all such points of change. Some organizations also use apps to measure number and quality of coaching touch- points for an employee.
All in all, building a coaching culture is a long term, effort intensive process. However, it would not be wrong to say that the results are well worth the effort. Developing a coaching culture pays off in many ways including impact on productivity, retention, employee satisfaction as well organizational growth. Due to the many wins it provides and its far reaching impact a coaching culture is certainly something organizations should work to develop.