There are considerable business benefits to developing a coaching culture within an organization and providing career progression opportunities for employees. Coaching targets high performance and improvement at work and usually focuses on specific skills and goals.
To develop a coaching culture, this approach becomes the basis of an ongoing management style. It can result in higher employee engagement, improved communication, and increased innovation, as well as help to attract, retain and develop top talent.
A coaching culture will look different in every organization as it will be developed to complement the overall culture of the business, its history, values, and strategies. While the end results may look different, there are strategies and considerations for developing and sustaining a coaching culture that will be relevant to organizations of all sizes and sectors.
Start at the top
Developing and sustaining a coaching culture over time requires support, commitment, and buy-in from senior leaders. It’s worth considering not only if your senior leadership team has had training and experience in coaching others, but also if they have direct experience of being coached themselves. Experiencing the benefits of coaching firsthand is the best way to appreciate the benefits it can bring fully.
Through our Executive search division, we provide Executive coaching services as it supports senior team members in developing their thinking and producing realistic and effective strategies for them and their organization. Introducing Executive coaching could be an appropriate first step, adding the benefit of supporting leaders to shape business strategies as well as developing a leadership team dedicated to championing coaching within the organization.
Equip managers with coaching skills
While senior leadership support is integral, managers are well-placed to embed coaching into day-to-day business life. Invest in supporting managers to develop coaching skills and empower them to support team members to create their own strategies rather than telling them what to do.
Coaching can be used in one-to-ones, performance reviews, and day-to-day interaction to develop and progress talent. It can also tackle any elements of poor performance, by coaching employees to understand and solve performance problems. The aim is to create an environment where coaching is used as the main management method.
An additional benefit of this approach is that managers will feel more equipped to coach team members through tasks. In turn, they will be encouraged to delegate more, freeing up their time for higher-level tasks and developing up-and-coming talent.
Involve everyone in the journey
Despite the logical approach of starting from the top, it’s still important to consider how everyone can be involved in developing a coaching culture from the outset. Maintain open communication with all employees about the process and ideas being put in place. Share the ambition to establish a coaching culture, explain how coaching works, and how it will help them fulfill their potential and bring more comprehensive benefits to the business. If people don’t understand, they could be resistant. They may feel that coaching is being ‘done’ to them rather than with them.
It could be highly confusing to team members if their manager suddenly starts responding differently to the communication style they’ve always known. The desired outcome is a collaborative approach to creating a culture in which every member of the organization recognizes the benefits of coaching, understands how to respond to coaching techniques, and actively demonstrates coaching skills and behaviors themselves.
Integrate coaching into inductions
Including coaching within employee inductions not only reinforces a coaching culture from the outset, but it can also significantly impact the individual’s effectiveness in their new role. We provide coaching for candidates we’ve placed into new organizations. It can really help them explore how things work, build more effective relationships and prioritize tasks and actions to have a positive and immediate impact.
Adopting a coaching approach to inductions helps to ensure the new colleague feels more involved. They share the responsibility for their learning rather than feeling like they are waiting for information to be passed.
Look for external coaching opportunities
While the focus is on developing an internal coaching culture, opportunities for external coaching opportunities shouldn’t be overlooked. Coaching outside the business can further enhance a coaching culture by providing fresh perspectives, objectivity, and different experiences. Actively support and encourage employees to become part of any local business or industry networks that offer coaching opportunities.
For example, many of the initiatives we’ve put in place to help support businesses in our region include career coaching and forums where like-minded professionals can get together to share experiences. This is because we recognize the critical role a more comprehensive support network can have in assisting ambitious individuals to reach their full potential, in turn helping to develop a wider talent pool for employers.
Embed and reward
Finally, consider how you can demonstrate an ongoing commitment to sustaining a coaching culture. Champion it within the organization’s values and business plans. Look for ways to reinforce the development of the culture you are working to achieve by recognizing and rewarding people’s contributions and involvement in activities designed to share knowledge and coach others.