The Four Steps to Building a Coaching Culture

At the heart of every organization is its culture—its personality and identity. Today, people are putting more importance on company culture than ever before. Deloitte recently found that 94% of executives and 88% of employees consider a distinct workplace culture important to organizational success.

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According to a study by the Human Capital Institute and the International Coach Federation sited in an ATD article, organizations with strong coaching cultures report revenue growth well above their industry peer group (51% compared with only 38%) and significantly higher engagement (62% compared with 50%).

While companies are investing time and money in workplace coaching, hoping it will seep into their company culture and drive productivity and engagement, a lot of companies aren’t seeing the results they want. The disconnect? Culture.

For workplace coaching to work and truly drive results for your business, it must echo throughout your entire company—at every level and in every conversation. One way that organizations can develop such a culture is through four steps we call RLAA (pronounced “relay”): relevance, learning, application, and accountability.

Build Relevance from the Top Down

Organizations with robust coaching cultures are over 60% more likely to have senior leaders involved in their coaching systems. Leaders, if you want coaching to become your company culture, start with yourself. Make it part of every meeting agenda, strategic discussion, and water cooler chat. Illustrate the benefits of coaching—to the organization and to each individual—by talking about it and, more importantly, by doing it. And if you’re not the right leader for the job, find the person who is. Make that individual the spokesperson, and have him or her share enthusiasm regularly.

As senior leadership takes the reins, employees will naturally follow. However, to make workplace coaching fully relevant to them, pinpoint their motivation. Help managers, as well as employees, understand the value that coaching can provide them. Show managers how coaching can engage their people, increase team performance, augment their leadership skills, or add a credential/certification to their résumé.

Foster Learning on a Regular Basis

Every employee in the organization, regardless of role or level, should understand the basic principles of coaching and performance improvement. Organizations with successful coaching cultures were nearly 40% more likely to target every employee with coaching training than organizations with less pervasive coaching cultures.

Make coaching, training, and development regular opportunities by using classroom or virtual lessons. Then, like anything we want to excel in, it takes hours of practice. The more you coach, the better you become.

Help Employees Apply What They Learn

The adage is simple but true: Where you fail to plan, you plan to fail. You can’t create a coaching culture without developing an action plan and providing support to make the transition easier on employees. Establish a personalized follow-up plan that will work with your organization’s business cadence and structure. We’ve seen companies develop a master coaching class with follow-up small group sessions. Other companies use reporting systems and even online coaching platforms or apps. The point is, create a system that helps everyone apply what he or she learns, and check in on it regularly.

Develop Positive Accountability for Results

When it comes to accountability, we frequently put that responsibility on managers, but when done correctly, it looks completely different. The beauty of coaching is developing a workforce of people who feel supported in their abilities to make decisions and own their choices. An accountability system encourages employees to take ownership of their performance and encourages managers to take ownership of how they coach others.

What does this look like? First, make sure every employee at every level is experiencing coaching conversations on a regular basis. Second, establish transparency regarding coaching efforts in your organizations. Do you know who is coaching successfully? How many coaching conversations are occurring? Tapping into that knowledge will guide leadership on what needs to change and how to get there.

If your organization is already investing the time and money in workplace coaching, why stop there? Dig deeper, and change the identity of your company to one that coaches at every level and in every instance. As a result, you can expect better productivity, more engagement, and higher performance all around.

Bill Bennett is a seasoned executive with more than 30 years of leadership experience, including 15 years in the training industry. As the former division president of FranklinCovey, Bennett was responsible for all FranklinCovey operations worldwide for the Organizational Solutions Business Unit. He began his career at IBM and spent 15 years with the company in a variety of management roles. He currently serves as CEO of InsideOut Development, a revolutionary coaching company that helps leaders hold the conversations that drive real results.

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