Developing a coaching culture
One of the enduring strategies spoken of highly within the HR community is the need to create coaching cultures within business. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 80% of companies surveyed used coaching techniques as part of their people development programmes.
The benefits to individual development, staff retention, company cohesion and productivity can be large, but how does it work in practice, and how can you tell if you’ve got it right? Below are some tips on how to develop a successful coaching ethic within your company:
Why do it?
A well-crafted coaching programme, either internally run or with the help of outside experts, can be an invaluable tool for organisations and individuals alike. It feeds morale, encourages cross fertilisation of ideas, and stimulates business development through close relationships between staff members.
Even though it sounds good as a generalised concept, it is crucial that any coaching programme be specifically developed for your individual business needs. Good coaching is one to one, targeted at resolving specific areas and skills deficiencies, and is aimed at improving performance in an honest and secure environment.
Synergies within strategies
Any successful coaching strategy should use the company’s business plan as its foundation, judging the benefits and required resources of coaching within the context of the existing and future business model. If your business plan sets targets for growth in particular areas, and you do not feel that you have the skills or experience base to achieve these objectives for example, then your focus on coaching can begin in these areas.
If your coaching strategy is anchored in specific business targets then it has a much higher chance of measurable success, and of reaping the more general benefits that occur in a supportive coaching culture.
One for all, and all for one
One of the secrets to great coaching is getting the match between coach and coachee exactly right. One of the more obvious mistakes that can be made is to match people based on their personality types, rather than their complimentary skillsets. Often it can be rewarding, although sometimes challenging, to match individuals with contrasting personalities, forcing both parties to extend beyond their traditional comfort zone.
Another important element to remember is that all levels of seniority must get involved if you are going to make the successful transition towards a coaching culture. Coaching is all about development at all levels, so don’t be afraid to include Directors in your plans, as they too will benefit.
Coaching culture shock?
As with any corporate change, initiating a programme of coaching may create something of a culture shock within your organisation. This can be quite challenging to manage, mainly because individuals themselves will be challenged to come out of their comfort zone and interact with their peers in a completely new fashion.
The right strategy of implementation should make allowances for this, and ensure that the transitional learning curve is not too steep and the initial expectations not too demanding.
Stick with it
The philosophy of coaching is nothing if it’s not adhered to, or pursued in a short-term fashion. For a cultural change to become embedded in a company’s practices, it must be viewed as a long term investment in your people, and cutting a programme short will inevitably send out the wrong messages to your employees.
If your coaching programme is closely allied with your mid to long-term business plan, then this should allow the cultural shift enough time to take root and become a success.
Report the results, and share the achievement
The real benchmarks of a successful coaching strategy within your business are only tangible if you set realistic and measurable criteria and feedback mechanisms from the start. If your goals are to improve an overall skills deficiency in the company, for example presentation skills then you should plan in a method to review the achievements against that goal. All participants could have a presentation day, where they get to show off their new abilities and critique each other in a safe, non-judgemental way.
You should also build in a responsive feedback mechanism to allow both coaches and coachees to comment on the stages of the process, and its effects on their own development. This will create an inclusive aspect to the process, encourage buy-in, and allow you to measure results more effectively. Once these results are verified, make sure that you communicate the benefits back to the participants.
Keep it moving
A successful coaching strategy has many rewards, and has a tendency to inform many different aspects of how your business views itself, its individual and collective development, and even the HR function itself. You may find yourself changing your recruitment strategy to encompass the selection of future employees not only on the basis of their skills offered to the specific role, but also on the array of transferable skills that they can offer the coaching culture itself.
It’s important to keep the coaching culture dynamic, using any feedback gained as a basis for developing further coaching programmes, and keeping the spirit of individual and collective development at the very heart of your business.