Right now the world of employee development is going through a transformation. Growing numbers of organisations are putting people right at the centre of their strategy for success – and there’s increasing awareness of the fact that coaching has a fundamental role to play. But harnessing the benefits of coaching requires a shift in perspective. It’s about way more than the occasional engagement of a coach or focusing efforts onto a single group of people in an organisation. To create a genuine coaching culture, coaching must become part of the fabric of the whole company. But how do you achieve that?
Embedding a coaching culture across your organisation
There are many benefits to developing a coaching culture*. It increases self-confidence and enhances a sense of well-being, supported by a clearer perspective about work/life balance. It increases employee engagement and helps achieve employees’ potential and improve their communication skills. Ultimately it drives success. In short, it’s worth the effort. So where do you start?
First of all, you need to create a growth mindset across the whole organisation. OK, it might sound easier said than done but it’s achievable. Turn failure on its head. Let it be seen as an opportunity to learn and grow instead. Encourage people to try, and let them know it’s ok if things don’t always work out.
Secondly, board level buy in helps. A lot. We know; getting board level support can be a challenge. But it’s possible. How? Encourage them to experience the benefits for themselves so they can use their experience to role model and endorse coaching throughout the organisation, becoming coaching champions. Ideally the board should provide the environment, systems and resources to enable coaching to take place.
A word of advice if you’re struggling with this however. It’s not just about the board. Board level support may make achieving a coaching culture far easier – but remember you don’t need to ask the board for permission to have a coaching conversation…
Either way it’s also important to focus efforts onto other individuals and groups to begin building a coaching ethos. What can you do to make coaching available to everyone? Think broadly and remember you aren’t limited to providing coaching in just one way. Yes, there are more ‘traditional’ options like external, professionally accredited coaches. But also think about internal coaches and digital self-coaching to make it more widely accessible.
Can you give employees the skills to coach others? Start off with line managers. Help them understand what coaching is (and isn’t!). Demonstrating and role-modelling coaching behaviour is a powerful way for line managers to embed it into a culture. Coaching doesn’t just have to happen at the individual level either. Give teams the skills and tools to run group coaching sessions. It doesn’t have to stop there. How about introducing peer-to-peer coaching as well, to facilitate working on creative solutions together?
One of the best ways of developing a living, breathing coaching culture is by making coaching and feedback part of everyday life. So foster in-the-moment feedback. Encourage people to be receptive to any feedback they’re given, rather than fearing it. Actively promote and provide time for self-reflection by encouraging activities like journalling where people can take time to think through what they’ve done and learn from every experience.
Can digital solutions help develop a coaching culture?
A sustainable coaching culture needs a blend of formal and informal coaching methods. Obviously not every organisation can offer everyone face-to-face coaching – but does it need to? Not necessarily. Digital’s playing a big part in innovating to achieve this by effectively providing a whole new method of coaching.
It’s delivering on many levels. Everyone in the workplace is working within, and is affected by, the digital age. We all have greater expectations of instant feedback, self-fulfillment and personal development and want the space to develop, learn and be coached. But we don’t expect to be “told”. There’s a tendency to direct our own experiences more.
Effective coaching of any kind means asking questions that highlight strengths, skills, capabilities and impact on others. Good coaching isn’t about a coach supplying answers. Digital self-coaching asks many of those questions, encouraging individuals to take a step back and view themselves from new perspectives. From that comes the ability to self-coach; individuals effectively become their own observer, working out new ways to find solutions and becoming accountable to themselves for the progress they make.
It’s there for the taking…
The role of the human coach will be as vital as ever. But blending the coaching approach to offer external and internal coaches along with digital coaching according to circumstance and need extends opportunities to people who may never otherwise have the chance to be coached. You develop a culture where it’s the norm for people to be able to fulfill their potential – not the exception for a lucky few. Coaching becomes part of the fabric of an organisation, made up of employees who appreciate and value their own capabilities. A coaching culture is within reach. Go grab it.
* Taken from “How To Create A Coaching Culture: Framework For Success”, Coaching Culture Ltd, 2018
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