This week’s post is in response to a challenge from Sean Kent. He wanted to know how best to embed coaching in to the culture of an organisation. As you can imagine, that’s such a multi faceted question that one could write a book about it (and plenty have). Faced with such a huge task I immediately went in to research mode but quickly discarded it – otherwise Sean would have had to wait a year for his challenge to be answered. I had the idea of making a little movie with talking heads of coaches I know each delivering a little nugget of wisdom but there hasn’t been the time to organise that so we’re back to me and my somewhat curious take on the world.
- I think first off it pays not to have this “coaching culture” as the destination but rather to understand how coaching will help you deliver whatever your business produces / does. That way sceptical employees will see how they will get from A to B using coaching as part of the journey and hey, we all like going on a trip don’t we?
- Next up I feel that it’s important to have a body of internal coaches. As an independent you’d expect me to suggest the opposite (and don’t get me wrong, one or two externals can provide a frame of reference) but that will never fully embed coaching. They should come from a cross section across the organisation, not just traditional leaders or people in authority. It’s a great way to develop new talent or increase responsibility. If your coaches can get together for regular professional development sessions then great, if not they need to continue to invest in their skills one way or another (and may need your support to do so). Which leads me on to my next idea.
- All managers should get at least a basic coaching skills package with additional support from your internal specialists. If managers understand how to use a coaching approach with their staff they will be able to deploy it in situations as diverse as development discussions and return to work interviews. What better way to show your staff that coaching is here to stay. Now I appreciate that this one won’t be easy but we all have to start somewhere.
Operating on the principle that the human mind likes groups of three I should stop there but I know we also like “one for luck” so here goes…..
COACHING IS NOT JUST FOR SENIOR PEOPLE, IT’S FOR EVERYONE!
Yep, I think I said that loud enough. You see, junior staff get “a personal development plan” but senior staff with a skills gap get “coaching”. How aspirational would it be for people farther down the food chain to get the same as the bosses? If your executives are so invested in coaching as to offer it to their subordinates then this is going to be really powerful. That way your workforce see a similar investment of time and energy being placed in them. Obviously, you really need your top team to have bought in to a coaching approach but rather than enforce it from above, let it grow from demand, from the investment in the internal coach team, staff and managers. My experience is that you’re never short of volunteers for coaches or people willing to be coached.
So that’s it, a very simplistic ‘fast and dirty” view of coaching culture. I know that Sean already has a strong cadre of coaches in his organisation and is committed to growing that capability. Maybe you do too. If not, come and find me and we can talk some more about how you might do that. I’m here, I’m on twitter @projectlibero and also over at www.projectlibero.com