6 Steps To Implement A Coaching Culture In A Large Organization

July 19, 2023

This article was originally posted on Forbes

As organizations strive to stay competitive in today's fast-paced business environment, many are turning to coaching as a way to develop their employees and enhance their performance. However, implementing a coaching culture in a large corporate organization can take time and effort. It requires a shift in mindset, a commitment to ongoing learning, and a willingness to invest in the development of employees at all levels.

Coaching is becoming an increasingly popular practice in the modern workplace, with many companies embracing it to enhance employee performance (as I wrote about previously). As defined by Professor Peter Hawkins in Creating a Coaching Culture, an organization has a coaching culture when "a coaching approach is a key aspect of how leaders and staff engage and develop their people, leading to increased individual, team and organizational performance and shared value for all stakeholders."

What Is Coaching Culture?

coaching culture is one in which leaders and managers support employees' performance, growth and development through effective feedback and communication built on trust. In a coaching culture, employees at all levels are encouraged to develop their skills and talents through coaching, and coaching becomes embedded in how people work and interact. More and more companies are recognizing the importance of such a culture; as of 2021, 72% of organizations surveyed by the Sounding Board offered some form of leadership coaching for talent development.

The same leadership coaching report cited above found that nearly 80% of respondents said coaching serves primarily to improve leadership skills, while 51% said its purpose was to increase employee engagement. Coaching can also create a more diverse and inclusive workplace by providing support and feedback to employees from all backgrounds, as well as helping identify and address unconscious biases.

Since employees are encouraged to develop their skills and abilities in a coaching culture, which can increase their sense of accomplishment and efficacy, coaching can lead to greater job satisfaction and lower stress and burnout. Coachhub reports that 85% of managers who received coaching outperformed their peers in soft skills like agility and resilience, while 70% of coachees reported that coaching improved their work-life balance.

6 Steps To Implementing A Coaching Culture

It is clear from numerous studies that organizations can benefit greatly by embedding a coaching culture. Here are some practical steps to consider when developing a coaching culture at work:

1. Get managers' and shareholders' buy-in.

To instill a coaching culture in an organization, managers, and shareholders need to understand its benefits. Once they do, they will be more than willing to provide the resources needed. To get their support, first explain the goals you aim for. Another highly effective way to get managers' buy-in is to encourage them to experience coaching themselves. Leaders who have undergone coaching have a strong potential to influence and impact those surrounding them.

2. Fund coaching appropriately.

After getting managers' and shareholders' buy-in, organizations must ensure that the importance placed on coaching is reflected in the annual operating budget. Coaching needs to be a dedicated line item in the budget for a coaching culture to be effective.

3. Start with the leadership team.

Leaders should model the coaching behaviors they want to see in others. This means engaging in coaching conversations with employees, asking questions, listening actively, and providing feedback. Leaders should also champion a coaching culture and provide the necessary resources and support to develop coaching skills among their employees. To achieve these goals, leaders first need to be trained in coaching. This is beneficial regardless of whether your organization plans to contract external coaches. Researchers have noted that "managers should take a proactive role in the creation of coaching cultures within their organizations, including acting as coaching role models, actively engaging in training themselves, and promoting the benefits of such a culture."

4. Embed coaching into performance management.

Coaching should be a part of the performance management process, with regular coaching conversations between managers and employees. This can help employees develop their skills, identify improvement areas and set career development goals.

5. Encourage peer coaching.

Coaching should include more than managers coaching their direct reports. Organizations should encourage employees to coach each other, creating a culture of peer coaching where employees can learn from each other, share their expertise and support each other's growth. This can especially help with knowledge sharing, which is a kind of peer-to-peer learning experience that easily falls through the cracks when employees leave. As employees learn to coach better, they share that knowledge with their peers. Doing this will reinforce their learning experience.

6. Celebrate coaching successes.

Organizations should recognize employees who have demonstrated coaching skills. This might include sharing success stories, providing public recognition, and highlighting the impact of coaching on employee development and organizational performance. Doing this encourages employees to see the value in coaching and want to become more involved.

Final Thoughts

The six steps above are essential to consider for organizations that intend to build a coaching culture. Implementing such a culture requires effort and patience, but ultimately stronger relationships will develop when every leader in the organization is engaged and committed. By sustaining a coaching culture, organizations can continually develop strong and empowered leaders who, in turn, will strengthen the company. An investment in a coaching culture is an investment in your best interests.