Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The 6 key drivers of a coaching culture

After many years of training people in the corporate world to be able to coach, I know I am quite well qualified to advise organisations on how best to develop their coaching cultures. This qualification is based more on my trial and error, the successes and failures I have experienced, rather than any personal brilliance! This is based on practical, down to earth experience.  So let me share what I believe are the six key drivers of a coaching culture.

1. Start with the WHY

Many failed coaching implementations fall at the first hurdle because they have a muddled vision for 'why' they want to develop a coaching culture.  If the vision doesn't get people emotionally connected and excited about being a part of a transformational change, then it has little chance of succeeding.   Doing coaching just for coaching sake, or because it's a requirement from head office doesn't cut it! 
My own view is coaching has to be about improving individual, team and organisational performance or why do it at all! Avoid using neutral titles to describe coaching like 'work based coaching', 'everyday coaching', 'coaching essentials' and just call it 'Performance Coaching'!!! Be honest performance improvement is what you really want to happen, isn't it? 

2. Get the top team championing and role modelling coaching

Here I mean the top team at whichever site you are implementing coaching, so it could be a factory management team or regional sales team. I know I am a passionate believer in the power of coaching to unlock the potential of any organisation. I think the first mistake I made early on was thinking everyone must think the same as I do, because it is so BLOODY OBVIOUS! It's not, and you really do have to get your key stake holders on board before rolling out any coaching initiative. You need to run an away day with the senior team to make sure they fully understand and commit to coaching. My advice is to delay implement until you have this top level buy in, otherwise it is going to take you at least twice as long to get going.

3. Train everyone to use a single simple coaching methodology

We started off training managers as part of leadership development.  Participants loved being coached and were happy to coach their buddies on the programme. However when they went back to work they really didn't put coaching into practice. It was due to a 'lack of'- you know, 'time', 'skill', 'confidence and 'motivation'!I would advise against creating introduction, intermediate and advanced training courses, as a means of drumming up wide spread coaching activity - which in my experience will never happen! It is seldom the content of coaching training that is wrong, it is more likely the methodology.My advice is that you rather train everyone to use a single, simple, coaching methodology. Rather than pushing people into using a GROW process as the key indicator of coaching taking place. Why not just focus on the four key skills that can be used every day, as part of work. We teach this at a school that we support and we encourage participants to practice the skills at school and at home. To illustrate this one of the participant recently told me that she had used it with her son, who had shocked her by saying he didn't want to go on to university. She said she would most likely have lost her temper with him, but instead, she held back on judgement and asked open questions, listened with empathy and ended up having the best conversation she had ever had with him. At the end of the conversation she realised he had really thought through his decision, he felt he was not ready for university, wasn't sure of what he wanted to do, so rather than waste money and time he wanted to start work! At this point she was in tears and happy to support him.  (coaching is amazing!)

The reality is people perform better when they build trust amongst one another, listen better, show interest, ask the right questions and make feedback part of the way everyone works!
In addition to the skills, we also teach everyone to use three really useful tools that can make daily work a lot easier, so people get a real benefit and their performance  really does improve.

4. Integrate coaching into all people development

Another way you make coaching work is to 'wire it into your processes'. Don't leave coaching for those managers (normally the one's with high emotional intelligence) who just just get it and do it. If you accept that the largest part of learning happens through real life experience. If you want to accelerate the development of your people, then design learning experiences for them and provide coaching support to ensure that they grow in the process. This way coaching becomes an essential ingredient of the development process.

The process we have evolved over the years is aimed at helping people to improve their performance and l.e.a.p. ahead.

  • LEARN - learn new skills in small digestible chunks and be coached by a colleague/friend/boss in order to bring the theory to life.
  • EXPERIMENT - now test out what you have learnt is a safe learning environment e.g. within your own team
  • APPLY now apply what you have learnt to your job, still with coaching support
  • PERFECT - apply your growth mindset and continue to grow striving for skills mastery

5. Integrate coaching into high performing team development

The one hugely successful programme we stumbled on, was creating a development programme for teams. Rather than waste our money on fun away days where we would fail to address the real issues in the team. Instead we would run a high performing team workshop that would identify the issues and deal with them, plus excite people about the future (we also have fun!). This was a programme rather than a one off workshop and we would continue over time to work on areas that improved performance.
Over the years we have continued to develop the high performing team model and in the 2016 version we have now embedded peer to peer coaching into the model (in Know and Grow our Skills) to continue to help drive up performance.

6. Coaching sustainability

If you follow all the above you will get your coaching culture going that is for sure. Having achieved so much it is very important to sustain your achievements and so take steps to make sure coaching becomes self sustained:-
  • Coaching needs time and space to succeed and the top team needs to lead here, allocating peer to peer coaching time at off site meetings. Providing a quiet space in the office that people can go to in order to coach one another. etc
  • Initially use external trainers to get going but very quickly develop internal trainers that can carry on the coaching training.
  • Develop an internal faculty of 'super' coaches who can help with the training, coach the 'performance coaches' and do 'executive coaching within the organisation. 
  • We also see coaching as one of the essential roles of being a leader and have built coaching skills and tools into our inspiring leader training

If you interested in developing a nurturing coaching culture and need some help, then please get in touch with me via Release the Magic.

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