Wednesday, November 12, 2014

5 Strategies for Creating a Coaching Culture

"Why a coaching culture?", you may ask. Recent research indicates that coaching cultures create a multitude of benefits including improved employee engagement, job satisfaction, morale, collaboration and teamwork. This indicates that assisting leaders and their teams in developing coaching skills and weaving them into the overall management strategy, not just Human Resources, can reap rich rewards. After all, it's a well-know fact that companies with more satisfied employees are more successful.


The Center for Creative Leadership's study on Coaching Cultures separated out 5 key strategies for successfully implementing a coaching culture:

  1. Seed the organization with leaders and managers who can role model coaching approaches.

    Note the use of the word "seed" above. This is critical to this strategy. In a large organization, it wouldn't make financial sense to train all the employees in coaching behaviors. It would be cost and time prohibitive. The key is to train select leaders and managers in coaching behavior and have that waterfall through the organization. This ensures maximum return on investment and leverages scale to the best advantage.

  2. Link coaching outcomes to the business.

    It's been proven time and again that when undertakings are viewed as business initiatives and presented in such a way as to link them to the business goals, they are more likely to receive continued support from senior leaders. These leaders are more likely to stay interested in supporting propositions if you can tie improved business outcomes to the undertaking. You might even go so far as to create KPIs for individual performance measurement. It's all about the bottom line, folks.

  3. Coach senior leadership teams in creating culture change.

    Culture change is always painful. It creates fear and uncertainty if handled incorrectly. In order to successfully create a coaching culture, which would be a culture change in most instances, senior leaders should undergo training on how to successfully implement a culture change. Teams with strong bonds, such as excellent communication and interdependent strengths are more likely to successfully implement an organizational improvement than those without.

  4. Recognize and reward coaching-culture behaviors

    This is standard positive reinforcement. You see this emphasized repeatedly in any organizational change management course, leadership seminar, or coaching class. It just makes sense. It ties directly into KPI rewards or business goal achievement. However, unlike those goals, which are typically reviewed quarterly, biannually, or annually, new behaviors should be rewarded on a more timely basis. It's the best way to show support, across the organization, of the desired behaviors.

  5. Integrate coaching with other people-management processes

    This is critical for the sustainability of the new culture. It needs to become a "business as usual" process. At the very least the new coaching behaviors should be integrated into learning and development, job competency models and team-management processes.

Any organizational change is difficult, but creating one that appears to have no hard metrics and is relatively intangible is even more difficult. There will also be cultural barriers that will need to be overcome. They may include senior leadership not exhibiting the desired behavior all the while speaking in support of it, lack of accountability, or just not knowing how to start. I've provided some ideas for how to deal with these situations in the strategies above. Just keep in mind - in the end it's worth it.


A survey of ~350 key senior leaders (non-HR) shows they feel a coaching culture will have far-reaching benefits. 67% believe this organizational change would increase employee engage. 62% believe that increased job satisfaction and and morale will result and 58% believe a coaching culture will result in increased collaboration and teamwork.

A study by Bersin & Associates, now Bersin by Deloitte, puts it into even better perspective. Businesses that are highly effective at teaching managers and senior leaders coaching are 130% more likely to realize stronger business results and 33% more effective at engaging employees. Bersin's research showed that organizations in which senior leaders frequently coach had 21% higher business results and those with excellent support for coaching had 13% stronger business results and 39% stronger employee results. Coaching organizations clearly have better results. How can you not make the transition now?


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