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Creating a Business Coaching Culture

Supportive managers can create a coaching culture within their organisation

Want to create a coaching culture and sustain high performance? We already know that investing time and effort in developing your employees helps retain good people and assists the organisation perform better. One of the effective ways of achieving this is to create a coaching culture within your business or organisation.

A coaching culture exists when all employees in the organisation engage in business coaching conversations with all colleagues, regardless of reporting structures. The aim is to improve the performance of any individual by coaching them to take action, in order to overcome a business challenge with high commitment.

But what is business coaching?
A business coaching session

The exact type and method of providing coaching and mentoring to either managers or employees will vary between businesses.

Factors such as industry sector, number of people employed, organisational hierarchy, specific challenges faced plus much more will all have an effect.

Although some coaching processes will be the same or similar, others will be different depending on these various factors.

As a consequence of all these different influences, trying to define the term business coaching in one simple sentence can be tricky, but we have attempted to do so. Find out more on our comprehensive guide to business coaching.

Creating a Coaching Culture in 5 Phases:

1. Senior Level Buy-in

The steer has to come from the top. They set the rules, expectations, pace and tone to play by. Senior leaders have to be willing to commit time to becoming exceptional business coaches through executive coaching. For some, this could be an enormous transition of leadership styles, transforming themselves from manager to coach.

Leaders and managers have to be seen engaging with their teams and others in 1 to 1 business coaching sessions. A failure to be seen can often create an “us and them” distinction between workers and management, which stifles communication, damages morale and reduces productivity.

A good manager will frequently walk around the work area in order to be seen, be available to answer questions and get a handle on exactly what is happening on the shop floor. If they were to shut themselves away in their office all day, they would become distanced and isolated from what is going on, and would make employees much less likely to dare to disturb them with important queries or issues.

It is for this reason too that when managers are in their office that they have an open door policy so that employees feel welcome to approach them with questions.

2. Skilled, Trained Coaches

There is an abundance of coaching models available to use and it can be helpful for a business to select one to progress with. This will allow for continuity in the 1 to 1 business coaching sessions. A coaching model gives you a framework to work within; it does not tell you how to coach, but, simply put, 'it gets you from A to B'.

To create a successful coaching culture you have to invest in getting your people trained to coach. To gain credibility for your business coaches, we recommend they gain a recognised business coaching qualification, which is why we're proud to offer ILM coaching.

A coach who has had little or no training, or who is performing the role half-heartedly and without any great desire, can ultimately end up doing more harm than good. They can cause upset, conflicts, a focus on the wrong objectives, provide poor advice on how to overcome barriers to progression (so much so that the individual makes very little progress or even goes backwards in the development)… The list is long.

Whilst coaching and mentoring may sound like a simple case of listening to someone’s problems and offering advice, there is so much more in providing truly effective coaching. Great business coaches take years to train and hone their skills, and they never stop learning through additional courses and self-development.

3. Start Small

Ever heard of learning to walk before you run? Creating a coaching culture is the same in many ways. Build curiosity by each coach having two or three clients/coachees. Not only does this aid the time commitment and allows you to hone your coaching prowess, but also builds curiosity.

Depending on the size of your organisation and how it prefers to communicate you could put a small notice on the company intranet site. Pilot the programme with 5-10 business coaches, and be selective with who and when it's spoken about. Use this time to create case studies to use for the next phase.

4. Build Momentum

A true coaching culture has no boundaries; 1 to 1 business coaching can go up, down or across the organisation chart.

Publicise the vision of what you are looking to achieve, celebrate the results, use case studies whilst maintaining confidentiality, set up coaching clinics, have the coaches assessed annually to maintain best practice etc. Generate new coaches, and take them through an ILM coaching course.

Once the process has started and momentum is building, it becomes far easier for a coaching culture to take root within the business and incorporate everything it does. Employees will no longer be surprised when a line manager schedules a coaching session, they will expect it, embrace it, and be disappointed if it does not happen such are the benefits for them, as well as the business as a whole.

5. Embed and Maintain

"Told you it wouldn't last..." "I knew all along it was just a fad..."

Sound familiar? It goes back to phase one; as long as the buy-in is upheld by the senior leaders, executives and managers, the coaching culture will continue.

This could be as simple as senior managers periodically being coached by a direct report, attending the coaching clinics, or publicising the effectiveness of individuals, teams and departments.

Track data, calculate return on investment (ROI) and reward accordingly!

Just as employees require regular health and safety training in order to refresh their knowledge and embed the information in their heads for when they may need it (which, in the case of health and safety, is never), the same is true regarding coaching, or any subject for that matter.

People soon begin to forget things they have learned. One-off events are typically either a fairly expensive waste of time, only providing a short-term benefit until much of it has been forgotten, or they look like the company is only providing it because they have to by law or they are trying to use up annual budget.

A series of courses, programmes, sessions and meetings which are ongoing will:

  • Reinforce points made
  • Show employees that senior management are taking coaching and development seriously
  • Enable review sessions to be scheduled, where an evaluation of the success (or failure) of the implementation of the person’s action plans can be performed.
  • Allow the person doing the coaching and the person being coached to develop a greater rapport, which will lead to more honest, and therefore useful, discussions.

Can Business Coaching Be Enjoyable?

Training courses are often seen as a potentially boring day(s)
A blank wall and desk

Managers and executives often have the authority to choose when they would like to go on a course or undertake personal development, but for employees who are often simply informed that they will be undertaking training and development on this date and at that time, it can often be met with little enthusiasm.

Usually this is because, even though it will get them out of work, they believe that the training will simply be hours of being told information which they already know. This can particularly be the case with health and safety training when employees assume that everything they will be taught during the session will be common sense information that they are already aware of such as not hitting their hand with a hammer or something like that. Consequently, they expect the training course to be a boring waste of time and look forward to the event with dread and as a challenge to stay awake.

Can the same be said of business coaching?

Whilst both have the intention of developing people's skills, knowledge and ability, business coaching is different to training in that primarily a traditional training course will involve a tutor providing all of the knowledge required, whereas business coaching typically involves individual one-to-one sessions between the coach and the individual, where instead of telling the person lots of answers, the individual is the lead driver in identifying problems and devising strategies to remedy and improve the situation.

Business coaching sessions are therefore much more personal than training courses, with one-to-one meetings able to tackle the individual circumstances of the person rather than a fairly generic one-size-fits-all training course featuring many attending delegates.

Unless the course is an in-house training programme for a company, these delegates will come from different industries and have contrasting job roles, which necessitates the need for fairly generic information to be taught, and can leave large sections of the syllabus irrelevant for some course attendees.

What about being enjoyable though?
A group of office employees

That is not to say though that many training courses are not interesting and enjoyable, including health and safety training courses, even to those people who were not looking forward to attending. Similarly, embarking upon a series of business coaching meetings can be daunting and nerve-wracking for a person when they have no previous experience of being coached or mentored, particularly when the sessions are being run by an external business coach as opposed to a manager providing the coaching for a member of their department.

Even though it may be daunting at first, most people will find it enjoyable and fulfilling to discuss their workplace problems through with an experienced business coach who has seen similar struggles before and is well-positioned to advise accordingly. Even if making changes to a routine may be difficult and far from enjoyable, achieving the objectives set out at the start and becoming more proficient in one or more areas will make a person happy and give them the feeling that all the hard work and effort in making the changes was definitely worth it if it enables them to be more effective at work and increase their chances of promotion one day.

How Can We Help?

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The BCF Group have helped create coaching cultures in a number of businesses and organisations.

For many, we've been involved from the inception of the coaching culture:- aiding the strategy, delivering the skills to the aspiring business coaches, assisted them through their ILM coaching programme, supervised their initial 1 to 1 business coaching sessions, ran the coaching clinics and assessed the coaches on an annual basis. We also help evaluate the programme to ensure a sustainable and ongoing coaching culture.

For more information regarding business coaching and how we can assist you and your organisation, please click here to visit our business coaching section, and to view details of our open courses such as the ILM Level 5 coaching course.

Alternatively, contact us by telephone on 0844 800 3295 or send us an online contact form by clicking on the button below.

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About Us

The BCF Group have evolved from the Business Coaching Foundation, which was established in 2001. We have leadership development and business coaching at our core. Having representation from global learning leads, executive coaches and talent development specialists, we deliver accredited people development programs.

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Please see below for some of our related blogs regarding business coaching, leadership and management development:

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Department Transfers for Business Coaching and Development

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Young football players are frequently loaned to other teams. The same tactic can also be utilised in a business environment too, and form part of a business coaching and personal development programme.

Instead of having a young or inexperienced worker doing the same job every day, it may be possible for them to temporarily move to another department, or work for a manager who currently has more time available to devote to helping the employee develop their skills.

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