How to Keep Your People Through a Coaching Culture
by: Brianne Ligori
“You need to coach more. Coaching will engage your team. We need a coaching culture.” I always heard this in my corporate days as a leader, and I remember thinking, yes, I got it. I knew that coaching would make a difference for my team and that a coaching culture would shift the organization for the positive, but I had no idea how to influence this in such a big organization. How could I actually begin to create a coaching culture?
Fast forward several years, my role has changed, and now I hear these very questions repeatedly in my work at the Leader Coach Intensive. I think a lot about it and how I can help people with their goal of achieving a coaching culture, given the current issues in the workplace right now. How can we accomplish this when it seems like there are bigger fish to fry with resignations at an all-time high and the new trend of quiet quitting, where people do the minimum job requirements and put in no more time, effort, or enthusiasm than necessary?
Sometimes it feels like an uphill battle to create something positive, like a coaching culture, when high levels of disengagement are a big reality. I was always relatively happy in my corporate job, and I am saddened when I read stats like:
But as sad as I feel when I read these numbers, I completely understand. The pandemic brought up so much in us as humans. We realized that there is more to life than 9-5. It caused employees to shift their priorities and to demand something new from our work. Not only do we want the flexibility that the pandemic provided, but we also want more opportunities to connect to our purpose and to be happy at work. And a big part of being happy at work is having a leader and organization we can trust.
Disengagement and lack of trust are significant issues in the workforce right now, and I believe that if we don’t fix them, companies will continue to lose people.
All this to say, we need some serious changes in our workplace environment. The pandemic brought some positive ones, but we have much more work to do. In my opinion, the next evolution needs to include a coaching culture.
What is a coaching culture, anyway?
Leaders and organizations often ask me to help them build a coaching culture, but when we get down to it, many don’t know what it is. So, let’s break it down.
A coaching culture is an environment in which most leaders use coaching (asking questions & listening) as the predominant approach to:
I have seen firsthand that things start to shift positively when we bring in a coaching culture. The first thing I always notice is improved trust. The needle begins to move when show our people that we believe in them and acknowledge their humanness. Shifts happen when we start accepting that none of us are perfect and we are all on our journey to help each other meet our goals and fulfill our sense of purpose. People start to lean in when we demonstrate that it’s not all about hitting our numbers and delivering shareholder returns. These shifts, on their own, will build trust, and when our teams trust us, it drives engagement and even helps us deliver 23% stronger results.
How do we create a coaching culture?
I have learned a lot through my work in building coaching cultures both as an employee and as an external partner. Here are some key things you need to keep in mind when building a coaching culture. First, it must be done simultaneously from all levels, bottom-up and top-down. If you’re like many organizations we work with, you may think that starting with front-line managers makes the most sense. I agree! AND if you want it to stick, you will also want to work with leaders at all levels within the organization.
Back in my days in corporate, I had the pleasure of helping my organization create a coaching culture, and one key thing I learned is that you may have support from the top, but if they don’t also commit to building the skills themselves, then they can’t walk the talk. And vice versa. Some companies we have worked with had insisted on starting with senior leaders, which is fantastic, but by the time we got all the way down to front-line managers, the momentum had been lost. So, the best approach is to build the coaching skills of the entire organization in tandem. Now that may sound like a lot, but you can make it easier by focusing on the following:
To make it easier, I have put together this image highlighting the different puzzle pieces that go into a successful coaching culture.
Coaching Champions: These are people within your organization that become experts in coaching and are certified coaches. They act as champions of your coaching culture, can mentor other leaders in the area of coaching, and can help lead coach training programs.
Leader Coaches: These are your people managers. Leader coaches will participate in general coach training but are not certified coaches. They will use their coaching skills to be more coach-like with their team every day.
All Employees: This group is essential if we want to create readiness and increase the adoption of your coaching culture. Educating the entire workforce on what coaching is, how it helps, and even providing basic coaching fundamentals will help employees to be more coachable and empowered to take a more coach mindset in their work.
Professional Coaching: Professional coaches are ICF (International Coach Federation) accredited coaches. Leaders can also benefit from receiving coaching from someone outside of the organization. Professional coaches can help accelerate the development of senior leaders, leaders in transition, and top talent.
Mentor Coaching: Mentor coaches coach-the-coach. They are ICF-accredited coaches, either from inside or outside the organization, that work with leaders 1:1 or in small groups to help them take their coaching skills to the next level by observing their coaching and providing feedback.
Communication Strategy: Creating and implementing an internal communication/marketing plan is critical to any coaching culture initiative. The focus of this plan will be to educate and create excitement and buy-in about the new coaching culture.
As you can see, building a coaching culture will take work and focus. But from what I have seen over the years, the benefits far outweigh the effort required to get there.
Ready to talk about how you can bring more coaching culture into your organization? Let’s talk. Click here to book a call with Brianne to discuss how LCI can help you build coaching skills for yourself and/or your organization.
Brianne Ligori is a former corporate leader, certified coach, serial entrepreneur, author, and now full-time Joy Connector. She is the Co-Founder of the Leader Coach Intensive (LCI) and Founder of TGIToday™. Through her work at LCI she has helped develop countless leaders into the coach they have always wanted to be. Her work at TGIToday™ is focused on using her revolutionary method, the TGIToday™ formula, to help people across the world find more joy and fulfilment in their lives.
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