Developing a Culture of Coaching
“If you’re going to create a cultural shift, everyone has to understand how coaching makes business more successful.”
Excerpt from The Cycle of Transformation by Deb Siverson (that’s me!)
I’m a coaching junkie. I feel the most alive and in-tune when engaged in deeply connected and vulnerable conversations with those I coach. I love the moment when I feel others connect to what is most important and vital to them as a human being. I know all the reasons that coaching is less about me and more about the other, and I can get in the space of selflessness, but geez do I love being a coach! Partly it is about me, because if I didn’t love the practice of coaching, I wouldn’t be doing it. But for coaches like me to be able to continue to do what we love, we must be able to create a reliable and repeatable business. The sustainable success of coaching is dependent on proving performance. And that’s true of both big and small companies.
The value of business coaching has been well-documented. A few pioneering studies, known as the “MetrixGlobal” and “Manchester” studies, quoted by literally hundreds of sources, have been used extensively to illustrate the benefits of business coaching in general. Some studies suggest that “coaching has a 529% return on investment and significant intangible benefits. When employee retention was included as a benefit overall ROI increased to 788%.”
One of the challenges coaches face, is articulating the business impact of coaching. Many of us, myself included, measure success against the primary objectives of a coaching engagement. The outcomes are often tailored and may be deeply personal. I, like many, prove performance based on the individual need and align around a measurement to demonstrate the impact of coaching.
Anyone who’s listening knows we have proven the value of executive coaching. Most often resources are designated for a select few, typically in more senior positions. And you get no argument from me, because I believe everyone can benefit from a coach who is totally invested in their success. What needs attention is the majority, who don’t have access to the dollars that would transform today’s workforce.
What if that more conservative 529% return on investment could be unleashed on the mid-level manager population, or the front-line supervisor and employee. What would be possible!
Developing a culture of coaching has a significant and meaningful upside. Teaching managers to be more coach like in how they engage with employees and balance both results and relationships is desirable, but statistically, only 13% of organizations report having a strong coaching culture. It appears there is a lot of opportunity to develop strong coaching cultures. What are the first steps to move in that direction?
Ensure Executive Sponsorship in Word and Deed
Sponsors must have clarity on the role they play, and the tasks they will engage in during the culture change initiative. Just giving financial approval isn’t enough to get managers coaching at the level of frequency and effectiveness to make your coaching culture a reality.
Align on Desired Coaching Objectives and Outcomes
The best chance for getting a coaching culture off the ground is to align it with a key business imperative. Intuitively we know that connected and frequent coaching conversations are the right things to do, but without focus and measurement around an organizational objective, too many other things will come along and grab the organization’s attention.
Common Model and Language
Culture is built on the foundation of common language and practices. The organization must align around a method that everyone will agree to practice. The upside is that no matter where your employees go within the organization the coaching model will be a constant, and forge a new relationship with his or her manager.
Any competency requires gaining a skill set and then moving toward mastery. Coaching is no different. Managers and supervisors need tools and resources so that they can continue to grow as coaches and improve in the area that most impacts employee engagement.
Reinforce Coaching Activities and Effectiveness
Eighty percent of what is learned in the classroom is lost without reinforcement in the first thirty days post a learning event. Because the concept of coaching is easy to understand, we short-change coaching initiatives with too little follow-up. Coaching-the-coach, peer coaching, group coaching, coaching assignments, and manager’s observations of coaching activities must be an ongoing part of the coaching culture strategy. Without rigorous attention, all your hard work will quickly disappear.