I ran across an article in Chief Learning Officer Magazine titled “7 Ways to Create a Coaching Culture”. It’s a good read that you might want to check out.
There’s one sentence in the article that I want to elaborate on today. “The magic of a coaching culture is that it is infectious.” I get the point of the sentence. I’m just not sure that it’s quite as simple as the sentence implies.
Building and maintaining a company culture is a lot of hard work. Company cultures should be distinct. They should be both open to change but not easily changed. What I mean by that is, company cultures need to be able to change with the needs of the business. Company cultures shouldn’t be easily swayed. Then they would change too much. It’s a delicate balance but that’s what makes company cultures so valuable.
When it comes to employee coaching, I believe that organizations want the results. There are moments when I’m not completely convinced they want the work that it takes to get there. Organizations want high performing employees. No doubt about it. The question is, do they want the coaching process.
For coaching to truly become part of the company culture, there are a few things they need to do:
Demonstrate the process is just as important as the results. Coaching will not be infectious if employees love the results but hate the process. They’ll view it as drudgery or a necessary evil. HR and senior management will have to show how the process is equally important. One way to do that is with stories about how the process was valuable.
De-emphasize the chain of command. A coaching culture means that employees can coach and be coached at every level and in any department. Employees can coach managers. Managers can coach outside of their department. This blows up the traditional chain of command. And organizations have to be very comfortable with that approach.
Build coaching into the talent acquisition process. For coaching to become a part of culture, it needs to be talked about on company career sites and discussed during interviews. Candidates should be asked interview questions about getting and giving feedback. New hires should receive training during orientation about coaching.
Give all employees coaching skills training. Speaking of training, when organizations create coaching cultures then coaching isn’t just another program. It’s a program that drives what the organization does – how they make decisions, solve problems, etc. I can’t imagine any program that’s considered part of company culture not being trained (and getting the resources to make training happen).
Creating a coaching program isn’t the same thing as creating a coaching culture. Don’t get me wrong, creating a coaching program is a good thing and will bring tremendous value to your organization. However, creating a coaching culture is even better for the reasons I mentioned above:
- Candidates understand expectations before they take the job.
- New hires are given training to be successful.
- Open communication happens at every level of the organization.
- The entire process is valued, not just the end result.
If we think of the other components of our company culture, my guess is many of them follow the same criteria.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby at the BlogHer conference in Orlando, FL15