Most employers are constantly striving for happier and more engaged employees. Engaged and motivated employees not only correlate with employee satisfaction and a lower turnover, but also lead to increases productivity and company profitability.
But how do you engage employees? One practice many businesses deploy is developing a coaching culture. Coaching can improve your organization’s ability to set goals and achieve satisfying results by helping employees identify and take advantage of their natural strengths.
A coaching culture simply means supporting your employees so that they learn new skills and become greater assets to the company. A management culture that emphasizes training, regular feedback, and opportunities for growth creates a more engaged and energized workforce.
The Benefits of a Coaching Culture:
Your leaders and managers achieve more through their teams by encompassing a coaching culture, specifically by developing managers to promote the coaching leadership style. This in turns leads to:
• Increased engagement
• Development of people and performance
• Improvement creativity and agility
• Increased responsibility in employees
• Newly formed change management capabilities
So what’s not to like? Like many things in coaching and mentoring, a coaching culture is a simple idea but it’s challenging to put into practice. Developing and sustaining a coaching culture requires effort over time, and it’s only sustained through support and a clear vision from senior leaders. Senior leaders need to give up a fair amount of power to leaders and employees at lower levels consistently to ensure the coaching culture not only succeeds but thrives.
Coaching Culture: Where to Start
The first step is to create clear vision for the culture. It doesn’t have to be a perfect picture but it does need to be inspiring! How will the culture help you deliver your short-term and long-term strategy? What’s in it for leaders – and for all employees? How will it benefit your customers/ shareholders? Follow the best practices industry leaders implement to developing a coaching culture.
1. Identify Pain Points within Your Current Culture:
• Before you begin constructing your coaching culture, you need to identify and understand the specific problems employees are experiencing within your current culture. Has accountability been pushed to the wayside? Do certain managers follow their own methodology which produces results but doesn’t follow the coaching processes you set? When you have these pain points at hand, you’ll have a good idea of where the biggest challenges will be in the transition process.
2. Start at the top:
• Developing a coaching culture and sustaining it over time requires support, commitment, and buy-in from senior leaders. It’s worth considering not only if your senior leadership team has had training and experience in coaching others, but also if they have direct experience of being coached themselves. This in turn would help them understand the importance of top-down coaching as well as understanding the structures needed to be in place for the culture shift to succeed.
3. Develop Your Managers Coaching Skills:
• While senior leadership support is integral, managers are well placed to embed coaching into day-to-day business life. Invest in supporting managers to develop coaching skills and empower them to adopt the approach of supporting team members to develop their own strategies rather than telling them what to do.
Coaching can be used in one-to-one’s, performance reviews, and day-to-day interactions to develop and progress talent. It can also be used to tackle any elements of poor performance, by coaching employees to understand and solve performance problems rather than punishing the employees. The aim is to create an environment where coaching is used as the main method of management.
4. Quality Over Quantity: Developing an Effective Coaching Process:
• MORE coaching does not mean it is necessarily BETTER coaching – neither the number of sessions nor the length of the program correlate with better coaching results. Rather, coaching succeeds when it is targeted to the particular needs and challenges of the employees concerned.
Use your employee survey to drive your coaching culture strategy and prioritize the areas that need the most improvement. Identify those opportunities and make conscious efforts from the top-down to make a culture improvement identified by your employees, then re-evaluate with a second survey after the changes are implemented.
It’s also important to make coaching a relatable and regular experience. Try to weave coaching elements into a normal working day so it becomes part of the culture, not a one-off attempt to make a point. This could be done with weekly or daily feedback sessions, a free-flowing ideas board or a suggestions box. It’s about creating coaching techniques that will continually help your team learn and grow, because we don’t just learn to do something and then stop.
5. Provide Feedback Effectively:
- To provide effective feedback to employees there are a few rules of thumb that have proved successful in our experience and for
many of our clients making progress with building a coaching culture, they are:
- Make feedback timely so people can remember the event and incorporate the feedback into their learning
- Start with something positive, to generate a positive mood and make people more receptive
- Frame advice positively so it is more likely to be heard and followed
- Choose only ideas that are actually achievable for employees
Implement and Reward:
• Finally, consider how you can demonstrate an ongoing commitment to sustaining a coaching culture. Champion it within the organization’s values and business plans. Look for ways to reinforce the culture by recognizing and rewarding people’s contribution and their involvement in activities designed to share knowledge and coach others.