Creating a Coaching Culture In The Workplace: 6 Effective Ways to Do It
At the heart of any successful organization is its culture.
Companies these days are struggling to keep their employees engaged and motivated. In order for them to succeed in today's economy, they must create a culture in which people can thrive.
We believe the best way to do this is through coaching. When an organization adopts this approach, hierarchy gives way to partnership and collaboration. Blame gives way to curiosity, honest evaluation and learning. External motivators are replaced by self-motivation, and protective barriers fall as teams build. Secrecy and censorship are replaced by openness and honesty, and short-term fire-fighting reactions give way to longer-term strategic thinking. Change is no longer feared, but welcomed.
In this post, we will explain what a coaching culture is, why it matters, how it helps, and share six ways to start building a coaching culture in your workplace.
What is a coaching culture, and what does it look like?
A coaching culture is a workplace environment where coaching competencies are integral to the organization - they are learnt, embraced and applied consistently across all levels.
Employees are encouraged and supported to develop their skills and abilities through effective feedback and coaching from either their peers or managers. Instead of a top-down approach, everyone helps each other to be the best version of themselves via creating an environment that encourages conversations, learning and self-development. That way, everyone is given the opportunity to grow, contribute and achieve their goals within the organization.
A coaching culture believes that no one is above feedback and growth, and is a culture that encourages success without compromising the wellbeing of everyone.
Benefits of creating a coaching culture in your company
Stronger Change Management Capabilities
The benefits of creating a coaching culture are many. First, a coaching culture strengthens organizations' change management capabilities by enabling employees to be more communicative and confident. These days, a command and control way of management just won't do anymore. People need to be involved, and a coaching culture allows exactly that.
According to the International Coaching Federation's Building a for Change Management Report (2018), it was discovered that high-performing organizations integrate coaching into all stages of their change management process, and also implemented learning activities for change that were geared toward the entire workforce — not just leaders — so all employees can learn and adapt to changes of all scales. In the same report, coaching activities (e.g., one-on-one coaching, team coaching and work group coaching with a professional coach practitioner) were rated as the most helpful out of many other coaching activities in achieving the goals of change management initiatives.
Increased Employee Engagement and Satisfaction, Leading to Lower Turnover Rates
With a coaching culture, employees are empowered to own their decisions, have frank and open conversations with each other, and take charge of their own development. They tend to be more resilient and are better poised to bounce back from stressful events. Teams under the influence of a strong coaching culture are also likelier to support each other and feel more connections with each other, leading to higher work satisfaction levels. Satisfied employees are then likelier to be retained, which translates to lower turnover rates and therefore turnover costs.
More Revenue and Growth
With employees that are more engaged and satisfied with their organization, revenue and growth will inevitably follow. According to BetterUp, companies with high coaching culture report significantly higher five-year average growth and year-over-year revenue growth than those without.
6 Effective Ways You Can Create a Coaching Culture in Your Workplace
Senior Management Support and Involvement is an Essential Part of Creating a Coaching Culture
In order to create a coaching culture, you'll need the support and involvement of senior management to provide the necessary coaching resources and kickstart the whole process. When a coaching mindset is embraced and practised by higher-up's, it will naturally trickle down to the rest of the organization.
Senior managers can be coaches, mentors or advisers for coaching conversations and discussions with their employees. According to HR Daily Advisor, organizations with robust coaching cultures are over 60% more likely to have senior leaders involved in their coaching systems - showing that support is inadequate without involvement.
Leaders should be trained in coaching skills and have access to resources to support their development. Hence, organizations should develop training programs for leaders to take on the role of a coach.
Coaching is a process that helps individuals identify their goals and develop action plans to achieve them. It is a collaborative relationship in which the coach uses active listening and questioning to help gain clarity, set goals, and take steps to achieve those goals. By equipping leaders with the best coaching practices, they can help make a difference in their teams and in turn firms.
While this alone will not ensure a coaching culture in the workplace, it's an essential step to starting one.
Hire and Develop the Right People for a Coaching Culture
The foundation of any system is its people. Thus, cultivating a coaching culture in the workplace requires people who can coach and be coached. Recruitment plays a vital role in instilling a coaching culture, and should not be overlooked. Regardless of formal or informal coaching, employees should be screened for their ability to coach as well as their fit in the envisioned coaching culture. This varies across organizations as different character traits can suit different places. An organization that is keen on creating a coaching culture should ask itself what traits are desirable in a candidate and then develop plans or processes to hire talents with such exemplified traits.
Create a Coaching Culture With Effective Feedback
Next, creating a coaching culture at work requires effective feedback. Feedback helps employees understand what they are doing well and what they need to improve. It also shows employees that you are interested in their development and willing to help them grow.
Before giving feedback, we should always ask ourselves about our intentions. Feedback should be given at the benefit of the recipient and not for your own. We have to be conscious about giving feedback, and take responsibility for them.
Once you're aware of your intentions, ask if feedback is needed. After all, feedback is mostly opinion and not actually factual, unless it's data-driven. Be clear that the feedback given is not a personal attack, and ensure it's not just feedback for the sake of feedback. A simple question like "Would you like feedback/an observation about...?" would open doors to a productive and effective conversation.
In a coaching culture, it's also important to take responsibility for your own emotional state. Do not put it on others to change themselves for you so that you may feel better. There shouldn't be an expectation that you are correct and others aren't.
Give feedback as a question. "Did you realize...", or "Does it surprise you that a lot of people feel a certain way when you say...?", can help to make feedback be seen as a lens. Ultimately, feedback should be given as a question or based on data.
A quick checklist for giving effective feedback would therefore look like this:
- What are my intentions for giving feedback?
- Whose benefit is it for?
- Does the other person want my feedback?
- Is my feedback factual, or an opinion?
- Is my feedback structured as a question, rather than statement?
Most of all, the point is to not take feedback personally. It's common for people to get defensive especially when they did not ask for feedback. Also, it's important to keep in mind to not sound like you're blaming anyone too! With all these tips, it can help your team members be better at what they do.
Open and Honest Conversations Can Cultivate a Coaching Culture Too
Open and honest conversations are non-negotiables in coaching, as they create a sense of trust and respect. It allows for greater collaboration and creativity, as well as improved problem-solving. It's important to nurture an environment where such conversations can happen, since good coaching requires them.
You may find the below tips on how to have such conversations helpful:
- Be aware of your own biases.
- Try to be open-minded and objective when considering others' perspectives.
- Avoid making assumptions about others based on their appearance or group membership.
- Be willing to change your mind if new evidence or arguments contradict your existing beliefs
- Don't assume you know everything about someone based on first impressions or limited information.
- Encourage Application of Coaching Skills in Everything
A coaching culture is about creating an environment where people are encouraged to grow and develop their skills. This takes effort over time, and cannot be expected in an instant. Organizations can put in place action plans that help employees apply coaching skills as much as possible. For instance, regular coaching follow-ups or even peer-coaching can help, as long as it's a system that enables feedback.
Practice makes perfect, after all. Coaching skills aren't just something you can put an hour into your schedule to do each week, because it should be a part of everyday life. By imbuing coaching mentality into everyday behavior, a coaching culture can then be instilled since it is now the core of everything employees do.
Points to keep in mind when trying to create a coaching culture in the workplace
Changing organizational culture is hard work as it requires behavior change from everyone, not just one person. Corporate cultures have several layers that are built up over time and are difficult to dismantle, especially when most organizations are not built to have a coaching culture.
Creating a coaching culture in the workplace requires commitment, resources and opportunities for employees to learn new skills, give feedback, and receive support. It is a process that will take time, and foundation must be established with clear strategy, commitment and accountability.
We can help you with that. Contact us here to kickstart your transformational journey today!