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The benefits of adopting a coaching culture

Feed a man for a day or teach him to fish, what would you choose? “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Consider that each senior leader in your organisation is being coached and that part of their coaching program is to include two business goals. You have 25 leaders being coached, that is 50 business goals your lead team are consciously striving to achieve. Say, an average of 90 percent of these 50 goals are achieved, consider the results the company will be enjoying when goals are being achieved successfully and more quickly at every level of the organisation.

Companies with strong and effective corporate and coaching cultures are often characterised by high levels of employee engagement, productivity, company innovation, customer satisfaction, allegiance and having lower than average absenteeism and staff turnover, all driving profitability.

A study based on interviews with coaching clients revealed a median return on investment of 700 percent from coaching. Again, imagine the strength of your business results if your leadership teams were also coaching their teams effectively and your organisation adopted a coaching culture!

The proverb “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.means that teaching people how to do this for themselves is better in the long run because it gives them the skills to provide for themselves as opposed to you doing things for them. For example, instead of allowing your team to dump their problems on you hoping you will resolve them, teach them to come to you with a problem having thought of at least one or two solutions or options moving forward. By teaching your senior leaders to coach and your team members to solve their own problems you are setting them up with the skills to provide for themselves or the ability to catch as many fish as they decide they need on a daily basis.

A holistic approach to creating a coaching culture is vital. It is imperative to consider how the initiative is designed, structured and implemented so that alignment with the organisations vision and success is achieved. When looking into developing a coaching culture ensure you create clarity around the following:

Ask ‘why a coaching culture?’

Be clear on the purpose for developing a coaching culture. Ask why do we need or want to change our current culture? What is the most compelling reason to create a coaching culture? Do we want to activate a coaching culture to develop a solid leadership pipeline i.e. new talent, develop leadership skills, transition high performers or management or help our employees grow both personally and professionally?

Clear vision and goals

When you are clear on the answer to “Why a coaching culture?”, it is important to think about what you are hoping to achieve by introducing a coaching culture. In five years what will the organisations culture look like? What results will be achieved as a result of having a coaching culture? It could be that “Every employee has access to a coach if they want one”, “In 4 years all of our coaching will be handled internally”, or “45 percent of our professional development activities will include coaching”, “100 percent of our leadership team will undergo coach training by April 2013” and this is leading to better business outcomes, better staff retention, improved sales, etc.

In order to bring about long-term change, you have to be very clear about what you want (your vision) and then ensure that everything you do supports the culture that you want to cultivate. You have to believe 100 percent in what you’re doing, so be serious about it and lead from the top.

Framework and structure for the initiative

The framework and structure for this initiative is critical. Unless you have the right people engaged and backing the development of this cultural change 100 percent, it will fail. Buy in from the senior executive team and key stakeholders, is mandatory.

Communicate the ‘why’, the ‘how, and the benefits of introducing a coaching culture to the whole company and include each and every employee in your communications. By rationalising the ‘why’ and ‘how’ you will alleviate the fear response and reduce the threat within.

Research conducted in 2009 by Blesingwhite indicated that one of the biggest conundrums for leaders and managers is to make the time to coach. They need to want to adopt coaching as a daily leadership practice focusing on creating clear levels of accountability for each person, coupled with a supportive, encouraging, honest and trusting environment for their teams.

In creating a framework that will stand the test of time here are a few things to consider:

  • Establish coaching competencies in order to train people to. Then these can be used to coach and assess peoples’ capabilities as a coach.
  • Make available well established coaching models and tools that work and best suit the organisation.
  • Ensure your coaching culture is clearly linked to business goals and objectives.
  • To make sure coaching happens tie managers performance criteria to coaching outcomes and behaviours.
  • Decide whether you want internal or external coaches? Research the benefits and pitfalls of each option and make your decision.

Train and develop

Train and educate your senior and middle management leadership teams in a coaching based leadership style. Coach the Coach Training can make a significant impact by supporting highly effective leaders make a profound difference within an organisation.

Monitor the transition

Check how the company is transitioning from your current state to your ideal state as a team and business. How are you tracking in relation to time-frames? What results are you seeing emerging from coaching? Are you able to clearly track the outcomes? Continually look at what needs to be improved and who needs additional development. Provide a Coach’s coach to ensure the new coaches cement best practice.

Review and feedback

Prior to and during the implementation phase ensure you receive regular feedback from coaches and those people being coached.

‘Seed’ the organisation

Create a plan to ‘seed’ the organisation with coaching talent now and in the future, be it an internal or external community.

A coaching culture can help HR and senior leadership groups execute change across complex and geographically spread organisations. A coaching culture provides a framework that creates greater understanding, deeper connections and stronger networks, allowing change to be integrated more effectively across an organisation and within an individual. Coaching continues to be adopted globally to drive wide scale organisational change. A successful coaching culture will teach your employees how to fish instead of relying on being fed.

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Robyn Creed

Robyn Creed

Robyn is head of coaching at Barrett with specialised training in business, executive and sales coaching.

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