Creating a coaching culture in organizationsMar 24, 2022
Why is this important?
The role of coaching in shaping the quality of life in organizations can be huge. To go beyond the limitations of 1:1 interactions, coaching needs to impact and help build organizations’ cultures.
Creating an organization-wide coaching culture allows organizations to achieve mission and vision more effectively and robust financial performance. Leaders who use coaching skills have experienced better cohesive, engaged teams. Colleagues develop trust, adopt more extensively a growth mindset, and create transformational relationships that connect them to the shared mission and business goals.
To create a coaching culture, organizations need to develop crucial building blocks.
In a series of blog posts covering coaching culture in organizations, we will explore the meaning of coaching culture and its building blocks.
Building a coaching culture in an organization is about expanding the potential for coaching to impact the life and performance of the organization. There are three building blocks to a coaching culture. Each has equal importance for a coaching culture to strengthen and expand.
What is culture?
I resonate with the definition of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA). CARLA’s definition of culture is the “shared patterns of behaviors and interactions, cognitive constructs, and affective understanding that are learned through a process of socialization. These shared patterns identify the members of a culture group while also distinguishing those of another group.”
It applies to note how this definition emphasizes the existence of shared patterns and the role of behaviors in shaping culture and constructing meaning and learning that includes cognitive, emotional, and relational elements.
Can a culture change?
When looking at the definition just presented, one may deduce that cultures may indeed change when behaviors or how people make sense of their experiences change. Anthropologists would teach us that cultures are never fixed. They are essentially fluid and constantly in motion.
This realization helps open the possibility of culture change from coaching. One can reflect on how a culture can change when coaching mindset, skills, and related behaviors emerge and spread in a group influencing their shared patterns.
What is a coaching culture?
When introduced in an organization, coaching influences the shared patterns of that organization’s members. In particular, coaching can impact how members interact, their way of relating to one another, their behavior patterns, and the shape and content of their conversations.
Besides the relational dimension, coaching enables those members to experience personal change, especially in the way they see themselves, resolve their internal dialogues, access and use their resources, and respond to events, challenges, and opportunities.
Thus, one way to identify a coaching culture is by the shared patterns distinguishing a coaching culture group from others.
What are the benefits of having a coaching culture?
The potential benefits for organizations that adopt a coaching culture are vast. The International Coaching Federation (ICF), in association with the Human Capital Institute (HCI), has conducted extensive research in this field and produced several reports.
In its essence, coaching cultures help organizations better navigate the complexity of their realities and achieve more results by maintaining cohesive members around a common purpose, mission, and goals.
In a 2019 ICF/HCI study titled “Building Coaching Cultures for the Future,” organizations with a strong coaching culture showed substantial competitive advantages over other organizations in talent and organizational outcomes and business dimensions.
Some examples of talent and organizational outcomes advantages:
- Investment in employee development;
- Percentage of internal hires/promotions (internal mobility);
- Percentage of employees assessed ready for senior leadership positions (bench strength);
- Percentage of high-performers retained.
Some examples of business advantages:
- Customer satisfaction;
- Regulatory compliance;
- Employer of choice (talent attraction);
- Shareholder value;
- Labor productivity.
What are the building blocks of a coaching culture?
In its simplest version, there are three coaching culture-building blocks to consider. They are about how coaching is perceived, used, and measured.
The first building block of a coaching culture in an organization is leadership support for coaching and coaching skills and behaviors in their business relationships. Leaders would act as role models and use coaching skills to support others in pursuing goals and tackling challenges. It is also about the extent to which the widest audience in the organization exhibits coaching behaviors.
The second building block is about the extent of the organization’s members' access to professional coaching, both from internal or external professional coaches to partner with to achieve goals. It is also about the extent of the support internal coaches receive to undergo ongoing professional development through training, mentoring, and peer support.
The third building block is about how an organization can measure and articulate the impact of a coaching culture on key organizational parameters and business outcomes. The resulting development of metrics helps identify the return on investment and the related ability to unlock financial resources for building a strong coaching culture. (yes! It is a bit circular.)
The three building blocks have equal importance. As in a tripod without a leg, a coaching culture missing a block may collapse.
Each building block results from circumstances that are unique to an organization. There is no “one size fits all” solution for measuring the coaching impact, as the overall culture of the organization and their relative thirst for collecting information on the effects of coaching influence essentially the possibilities for evaluating the metrics that matter for their organization.
To sum up
Studies have shown that the scope for building a coaching culture emerges from the business and financial benefits that organizations can expect. Equally beneficial is the impact on talent and organizational outcomes.
Three critical building blocks of coaching cultures involve the vision, use, and measure of coaching in organizations. In our next posts, we will explore each building block in detail.
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