The Blog

It's Time to Develop a Coaching Culture

Not everybody has to be a professionally qualified coach, but if everybody with management responsibilities at least exhibits coaching behaviours the result can be extremely powerful.

The research we undertook earlier this year, where we surveyed key L&D decision makers and influencers across a number of industries, indicated that L&D budgets are likely to remain mostly stagnant in 2015. This means there is no better time to start looking at ways to maximise learning within your organisation without having to make heavy financial investment.

Developing a coaching culture within your business is a particularly effective way to achieve this. Research from the Human Capital Institute (HCI) and International Coaching Federation (ICF) last year found that companies with a strong coaching culture are more likely to see higher employee engagement levels, better retention rates, and increased revenue. In terms of Charles Jennings 70:20:10 framework, coaching sits within the '20' section of the framework, where learning is encouraged through interaction with others.

On a team and individual level, coaching facilitates a proper two-way dialogue between managers and staff, which raises awareness in individuals, enables them to make choices, and ultimately helps them take responsibility for their own development. By its nature, coaching also helps identify true learning needs, helping you take a more targeted approach to your L&D investment, and therefore get a better return and a bigger impact. It is little wonder, then, that the HCI and ICF research mentioned above came back with such positive findings.

What is a 'coaching culture'?

When we talk about a 'coaching culture' we are referring to something which permeates throughout the organisation, something 'organic' and integrated. The idea behind this is that coaching becomes ingrained into the management process, not just at senior level, but across all levels in the company. In short: not everybody has to be a professionally qualified coach, but if everybody with management responsibilities at least exhibits coaching behaviours the result can be extremely powerful. Clearly, then, there is a very strong commercial case for developing a coaching culture within your business.

How can you develop a coaching culture?

Firstly, it is important to equip and enable line managers to be able to coach their staff. Coaching is all about facilitating the exploration of needs, motivations, desires, skills and thought processes to help individuals make real, lasting change. A little training can go a long way here - giving line managers the skills to coach their team members, and the behaviours to understand when coaching is necessary and effective. In order for those skills and behaviours to become embedded in the organisation's culture, it is important to give line managers the time and facilities to coach their team members properly.

As with any part of an organisation's culture, senior leadership needs to play a part too. This could mean talking openly and positively about the benefits of coaching and encouraging other leaders and managers to do the same at their team or departmental level.

Simple steps

Achieving a truly ingrained coaching culture is never going to happen overnight, and there will almost certainly be hurdles along the way. But when you strip everything back it needn't be a complex process: have leaders champion the benefits of coaching, equip and enable line managers to coach their team members, and, as with anything in the L&D world, plan your coaching strategy in line with wider organisational goals. Ensure those three elements are in place and you will be well on the way to success.

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