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Creating A Coaching Culture: Getting Started

Whilst the benefits of coaching culture are increasingly being recognised, many companies are yet to take the appropriate steps to create a coaching culture.

As with any organisational culture change, developing a coaching culture takes time and effort to build coaching capability and embed new practices that at first can seem awkward and more time consuming to leaders.

This requires commitment from the organisation and a mindset shift for employees for this change to happen.

Creating A Coaching Culture: Steps To Get You Started

Here at The Leadership Coaches, we have shared four steps below that we are certain will help you get started as you turn your thoughts to creating a coaching culture.

1. Assess what coaching is already happening

As with any organisational change, it’s good practice to start with assessing the current state and identify what’s already working. Acknowledge and recognise those areas of good practice that can be built on and identify gaps that need to be addressed.

As you assess what coaching is already happening and how effective it is, consider the following:

  • Who does the coaching, the target audience and the objective of the coaching

  • Processes and procedures in place, e.g. the criteria for someone to be offered coaching, how coaches are selected and matched

  • To what extent do managers coach their direct reports, and how effective are they?

  • Any pockets of good practice where coaching is a local or departmental initiative

  • How the prevalent mindsets in the organisation might support or hinder efforts to develop a coaching culture

2. Define your coaching strategy

Start with the end in mind by visualising and defining what success looks like once a coaching culture exists in the organisation.

Consider this in the context of what type of culture and leadership the organisation needs to succeed in the current business environment and how coaching can support this.

In particular, think about how coaching could be an enabler for existing or planned HR initiatives. For example, how does it link to talent management or leadership development strategies?

“Coaching will never move beyond a “nice to have”, HR-driven initiative at the margin, unless it contributes, and is seen to contribute, to a core business issue…”

(Clutterbuck and Megginson, 2005)

It takes time to build a coaching culture, and a stepwise approach is usually needed. A few targeted pilots or an extension of an existing localised coaching programme to a broader group can help create some early success stories.

Look for business areas that have an appetite for coaching or a committed sponsor to champion your early initiatives. Consider the early pilots as experiments from which you can learn and develop the ideas further.

Identify the processes and structures needed to develop and sustain a coaching culture, such as an approved list of external executive coaches, a business owner for coaching activities, and technology to support the coaching processes. Define how you will evaluate the effectiveness of coaching.

3. Engage with leaders and stakeholders

As with any organisational change, engagement with stakeholders is critical. As you build a business case for coaching, senior stakeholders can help you to define how coaching can contribute to the business strategy and goals.

Engaging a diverse group of middle-level managers who will participate in the early coaching initiatives will enable you to get early insights into the challenges or barriers that may be encountered along the way.

For a coaching strategy to be sustainable, senior leaders need to be visible role models. If they’ve had limited exposure to coaching, they may need help understanding how coaching can enhance organisational performance. Help them visualise what a coaching mindset and behaviours will look like, framing the benefits in terms that are important to them.

Encouraging the senior management team to work with an executive coach is often the most powerful way of convincing them of the benefits of coaching. In turn, it supports them to adopt a coaching approach with their own direct reports.

4. Equip managers with coaching skills

The professional body CIPD (Management Development, 2021) recognises coaching as an essential skill for managers to manage their teams effectively. Google’s Project Oxygen found that one of the eight key attributes of highly effective managers was being an excellent coach to their teams. These and other reports refer to a coaching leadership style in which coaching is an integral part of a managers’ role and is adopted during regular interactions with their team.

Therefore, it is essential to help managers develop the skills, mindset, and confidence to coach, and providing this training is a critical step in creating a coaching culture.

Well-designed coaching skills training can help managers understand what is needed in their role, framed within the organisational strategic goals. This training needs to address both the coaching behaviours and the mindset required to coach effectively. A modular, experiential approach in which managers have the opportunity to practice the coaching techniques and reflect on what they are learning, honing their skills as they go.

Are You Interested In Creating a Coaching Culture?

Here at The Leadership Coaches, we hope that the steps outlined above will help you get started on creating a coaching culture. However, if you require professional assistance, we can support you.

The Leadership Coaches have experienced coaches who can help you turn this vision into a reality for your organisation.

Call us on 03450 950 480 to discuss this further.

Written by Sue G


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