What is a coaching culture? And what does one look like?

What is a coaching culture? And what does one look like?

Cultivating a coaching culture in the workplace enables businesses to grow and develop their people, as well as making agile work more effectively. However, what does the term “coaching culture” mean? And, perhaps more importantly, how can managers incorporate it into their day-to-day work environment?

A coaching culture puts coaching at the heart of personal and business development.

Coaching helps people discover and harness their potential and equips them with tools and strategies to make agility work. Managers who coach, foster collaborative environments and build motivation and enthusiasm among team members, who can in turn navigate change, and be their best selves. As a result, it helps individuals, teams, and organisations to better explore resistance, improve communication, and promote resilience while ensuring success in the face of change.

So, what does a coaching culture look like?

“When we see coaching going on… it’s a symptom of culture,” explains Antoinette Coetzee. This could include things like regular, organic feedback conversations, discussion of (and learning from) both failures and successes, emphasis on growth and development, and greater self-awareness for individuals.

When a coaching culture supports an agile transformation, it is correlated with a higher level of confidence in workers’ ability to plan and execute change. Additionally, a strong coaching culture is linked to the majority of qualities within high-performing businesses, including effectiveness in implementing large-scale strategic change. As a result, a strong coaching culture creates the internal capability that businesses need in order to respond and adapt to change continuously. This is the secret sauce that enables organisational-wide agility.

I wanted to dig a bit deeper into what coaching cultures look like and asked our Training Faculty. Our expert enterprise coaches are based all over the world and work across a diverse range of organisations and I wanted to hear about their experiences and observations. We compiled the following list of characteristics and values that they see in organisations with strong coaching cultures.

Louria Lindauer – Enterprise Agile Coach Trainer

  • Emotionally intelligent leaders who motivate, grow and foster leaders to their potential
  • Leaders who are able to read the system and see the big picture with clarity, vision and direction in all its complexity
  • Developing strengths, coaching as a leadership skill, values-driven decision making
  • Getting rid of end-of-the-year evaluations and focusing on growth leadership

Simon Powers – AWA’s CEO

  • A definite sense that people are listening more to all employees. We ran a workshop, and you could see an inclusive approach in action when it came to determining the outcomes they wanted to achieve. This was very powerful in terms of engagement, relevance, and impact
  • Unconditional positive regard for others
  • A shift from directive and reactive leadership to inclusive and supportive leadership that encourages ownership at lower levels in the organisation

Antoinette Coetzee – Enterprise Agile Coach Trainer

  • Actual flat hierarchy, rather than espoused – Companies often flatten their hierarchies, but with little real change. For instance, people are still scared to speak to the CEO directly (and share things that could potentially be career-limiting)
  • Total transparency, including leader meeting notes and salaries
  • Performance assessment/feedback by peers
  • Deep appreciation for vertical and horizontal development
  • Self-selection into coaching, with coaching available to every single team member
  • People socialise that they are being coached, share the progress they are making as a result of coaching, and tell others how instrumental the coach is in making that progress
  • A true appreciation of the impact of personal development on leadership and company performance
  • Truly living into values, rather than having them up on the wall. Mentioned in conversations, explicit alignment to it, etc

Kevin Callahan – Enterprise Agile Coach Trainer

Kevin says that when these beliefs are present then a coaching culture can thrive:

  • To achieve our highest performance, we need a specific kind of support that coaching provides;
  • Answers to the most difficult problems we face as organisations exist outside of what individual expertise has access to;
  • Improving how we work and do our work is critically important and worth investment.

If you are thinking that a coaching culture cannot be established because your company is too large, then you might be mistaken. These behaviours and values were observed in large organisations, including banks and pharmaceuticals, with 10,000s employees.

What are the benefits of a coaching culture?

So that’s all well and good, but what does success look like when an organisation invests in developing a long-lasting, healthy coaching culture?

Typically, organisations with thriving coaching cultures reap the following benefits:

  • Improved team performance
  • Increased employee engagement
  • Improved staff collaboration
  • Faster leadership development
  • Improved creativity and agility
  • Improved ability to respond to change

And perhaps more importantly, does a coaching culture actually deliver on improving revenue? Yes. In fact, a study by the ICF and HCI showed that 51% of organisations with a strong coaching culture reported revenue above their industry peer group, versus 38% of organisations without a strong coaching culture.

Sounds like just what we need. But how do we get started?

Creating a coaching culture is so much more than sending staff on a 2- or 3-day course. It requires (un)learning while doing over a longer time frame, incorporating and embedding new skills and knowledge into their daily work.

At AWA we offer a program that supports a strong coaching culture by employing a hands-on, “learn by doing” approach tied to specific business outcomes. Our experts provide rapid “on-the-job” training, coaching, and mentoring, including real-world transformation work. This results in a strong coaching culture and the internal capability to ensure business success in the face of change.

Ready to start getting the results your business deserves? Take the next step and talk to our experts today about our training program.

Need more help building a coaching culture? Take a look at our sister company, Bryter Work.

Curious about Agile Ways of Working? We answer your most frequently asked questions here.

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