coaching culture

There are many custodians when establishing a coaching culture; HR, L&D, Executive Committees, internal coaches and more. If you are the custodian in your organisation, the following are points for you to consider

In every organisation we have worked in, without doubt, the key success factor in implementing a coaching initiative has been having a dedicated person to drive it. Not a figurehead, not a sponsor, but someone on the ground making things happen. No matter how bought-in an organisation is to the initiative, no matter how many great stories and successes there are, it needs to be driven and on a continual basis.

As the manager of the initiative, it can be helpful to appreciate your mindset in relation to this role. Could you be described as ‘an evangelical coaching charity worker’, fighting for the cause but on a voluntary basis with little power or real influence over the organisation? Or perhaps a ‘baby minder’, the one left holding the baby with no one else to help you?

Coaching capability

Capability is a key factor for those who will be delivering the coaching. Are they ‘enthusiastic amateurs’ or ‘master technicians’? Novice, practitioner, or experienced coaches? By reviewing where your coaches are on their coaching mastery journey, will influence the way you choose to approach this work. How much of it will you do yourself? How much needs to be led and/ or delivered by others? What capabilities can you leverage in yourself and in the broader organisation? What training can you access? What funding will support it and which budget does it come from? Will there be managers as coach included in your offering?

What is the purpose of a coaching culture?

Establishing a coaching culture needs to have a clear purpose. Exploring the questions below will help you and your organisation work out that purpose.

Understanding the context and its opportunities and threats facilitates the creation of a clearer vision for success. One which takes account of past history and future potential. This gives rise to the strategies for achieving specified goals. It is important that a passion for coaching does not stay in a coaching bubble. It needs to be a catalyst for achieving outcomes for the whole organisation. Coaching is an enabler and methodology for getting things done.

  • What makes having a coaching culture so important?
  • What do you need to consider about other desirable cultures which are equally valid, vying for resources – the safety, quality or learning culture?
  • The organisation exists within a context or ecosystem, what is happening in our world at this time that we need to consider?
  • Who are our ‘customers’? How might coaching impact them?
  • What products or services do we want to offer?
  • What makes us special?
  • How will coaching enable our services?
  • What difference will coaching make to our staff?

As we know, coaching is quickly moving beyond the provision by external capability. In 2009, the UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that over 90 per cent of organisations reported using coaching and that 63 per cent delivered this internally by line managers supported by trained internal coaches.

Alison Maxwell (2011) distinguishes between four types of internal coaching:

  • Manager as Coach – “a line manager who draws on a coaching mind-set and coaching skill-set”
  • Crisis intervention – “counselling at work”
  • Coach as change agent – “individuals working in a change capacity, perhaps on a strategic initiative lasting a number of months or years”
  • Developmental coaching – “an individual who offers developmental or remedial coaching to employees of the same organisation, as a recognised part of their job description”

In our view, maintaining a cadre of internal coaches demands investment from the organisation for continuing professional and personal development. An external provider offering supervision will be mindful of the ethics and management of coaching, the quality of the contracts, while developing and supporting the coaches as both practitioners and human beings.

How do you know if you have created a coaching culture? In addition to the relevant metrics and measures, we believe there should also be due consideration given to the integrity, ethics and professionalism of the coaching activity being undertaken. Not just doing the right things but doing the right things right.

Karen Dean is an ICF Master Certified Coach with over twenty-five years’ experience in over ninety organisations. She is the originator of the me:my™coach online self-assessment framework for coaches and is a coach supervisor.

Sam Humphrey is an accredited coach, supervisor, researcher and author. She has worked in a number of corporate roles prior to becoming a professional coach which she has practised for nearly two decades.

Karen and Sam’s book: Coaching Stories: Flowing and Falling of Being a Coach speaks to managers and leaders who are influencing others as well as internal or external coaches.


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