The largest international independent coaching body, the ICF, undertook some research in 2014 to understand how coaching is being applied in a variety of small to large organisations across North America.  They found that 60% of organisations demonstrated that they had a strong coaching culture and they not only had more engaged staff, but also improved finances compared to those without a strong coaching culture.

This echoed an early study undertaken by the ILM in 2011, which surveyed 250 large organisations to assess their use of coaching at work and found that 80% of them were currently using coaching in the workplace and a further 9% were planning to.  Interestingly, organisations with over 2000 employees responded that 90% were using coaching compared to 68% of organisations with 230-500 employees.

Today coaching is seen as the norm for people management, and in fact you don’t have to look hard to find claims within most professions of their being coaches at work.  You only have to look on LinkedIn to find your accountant, events company or even colleague proclaiming that coaching is one of their business skills.

Just because you think you can coach or are given a coaching role doesn’t create a coaching culture.  Like any cultural change it takes time and invariably has to start with a vision and a commitment cascaded down from the top.

Creating a coaching culture is a strategic and inclusive exercise requiring businesses to think from short term, to aspirational, to future-intent-based goals.

Step 1.

Ask yourself why?  Why does your company, business, organisation want to adopt a coaching culture?  Take time to clarify the underlining objectives and outcomes before looking at the processes needed to be put in place.  Understanding where you are right now and where you want to be will assist in the how-to part stage of cultural change.  Look for quick wins along the way.

Step 2.

Once you’ve understood and honoured the current culture you need to dig deeper into competences both overt as well as covert.  Take a temperature check on what people really think and feel, observe body language and notice the silences.  Managing change goes through a cycle of Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement (ADKAR Change Scale) and being mindful of where your business, your people and your customers are within the cycle, will help you identify any future actions.

Step 3

Starting with Covey’s Habit 2, begin with the end in mind, along with positive role modelling is a reminder to senior managers to adopt coaching behaviour and to utilise coaching models as part of everyday business.

You know when you have a coaching culture when:

  • The company has a commonly shared and adopted coaching practice and language
  • Leaders are positive and active role models
  • Coaching flows in all directions (up, down and laterally)
  • Coaching is a joint responsibility (to coach and to be coached)
  • HR systems are aligned and in place
  • Personal growth, team development and organisational learning are a significant part of the business
  • Teams become passionate and energised
  • Employee engagement and confidence on a personal, team and business level are high
  • Positive feedback is used and accepted
  • Sharing knowledge is part of the learning culture
  • Time for reflection is valued
  • Active listening is everyone’s responsibility
  • Barriers to learning are addressed
  • Challenging conversations are welcomed

Change and developing a coaching culture at work isn’t going to happen overnight, some suggest it can takes as little as 3 and up to 8 years to turn intention into action.  And as with all coaching the first step is awareness of something needing to change, opening up choices of what can be done and finally resulting in new outcomes.  So no matter how long it takes, the first step is always going to start with awareness and the rest is up to you.