In theory, creating a culture of success through coaching seems fairly easy to accomplish. Yet, implementation can be difficult. This article explores the core components of what a culture of coaching entails and offers key action steps to support implementation success.
What do organizations with a culture of coaching have in common? There are seven core habits that rise to the surface.
- Openness to sharing and receiving feedback and input is evident at all levels of the organization. Not only are employees open to feedback, but they also actively seek feedback from others on a regular basis. It takes courage to ask for feedback and courage to honestly provide input and advice to others. While it’s easy to hear the positive accolades, it can be tough to hear about areas of improvement. Yet, being open to advice and feedback at all levels sets the foundation for creating a coaching culture.
- Take positive action to improve. To create a culture of coaching, all employees must be invested in striving for excellence. This means that there is a continuous drive to raise the bar of performance for themselves and others. On the organization’s part, this requires a variety of interesting career paths and opportunities to learn and grow.
- Solve problems at the core. In today’s fast paced work environment, it can be enticing to ‘solve problems’ quickly and move on to the next challenge. Yet, the ‘solution’ is often a band-aid that may take care of the issue in the short term but leaves the door open for it to return down the road. There can be a tendency to approach problems the same way they have been approached in the past. In a coaching culture, discussions not only include what is already known about the problem, but also what is unknown. This requires digging deep to challenge conventional thinking, identify the root cause, and develop innovative approaches to truly solve an issue once and for all.
- Include coaching in the approaches used to develop leaders who grow the organization. One of the key benefits of coaching is its ability to expand the capabilities of employees. A culture of coaching strives to strategically develop new leaders while existing leaders continue to grow. A mindful succession plan helps to ensure that the right talent is in place for the continued success of the organization.
- Initiate important conversations. The book Good to Great by Jim Collins uses the metaphor of a flywheel to talk about one role of a leader. The leader’s job is to ask crucial questions about what the organization does best, its values, and its purpose. As the conversations build, so does the momentum, in the same way a flywheel takes a bit to turn, but over time, becomes a powerful force. An organization with a culture of coaching encourages these conversations, inspiring employees to ask deep questions and collaboratively answer them while leaving the door open for new insights and creativity.
- Create the culture you desire. Incorporating coaching into your company culture is only one part of what creates a culture, just as coaching is only one of the key skills a leader should possess. Defining the total culture desired for the organization is a ‘must-do’ for leadership. Painting the picture of what leadership wants the culture to be; defining key performance metrics; identifying the key habits expected; modeling those habits and communicating expectations, layer by layer throughout the organization are all key components of shifting and creating culture.
- Employ coaching as a tool for continuous improvement. Lastly, in a culture of success through coaching, people coach each other. Whether this is through formal coaching relationships or simply through ongoing dialogue with managers, colleagues, and employees, everyone can participate in and benefit from playing a coaching role.
Five Action Steps:
Five of the key steps needed to create this kind of culture include:
- Train senior leaders and managers to be effective coaches.
- Reward those who display coaching behaviors.
- Senior leaders must go first. This means that they must model the coaching behaviors they expect to see in others.
- Employ coaching as a tool to support all aspects of the desired organizational culture,
- Use external and internal coaches as one of the tools to help people develop.
Like any kind of significant and lasting culture change, senior leadership must make coaching a priority and a focus. While obvious, implementation typically fails because it can be difficult to maintain this discipline. Without it, though, none of the action steps above will matter. How committed are you to stay the course and create a culture of success through coaching in your organization?
Adapted with permission by Center for Executive Coaching