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Are you interested in creating a coaching culture in your organisation?
Here’s some practical information and a few useful questions that will help you get started.
1. The basics: What is a coaching culture?
I’ve supported organisations that wanted to develop staff’s coaching skills and a few who aimed to want to truly create an organisational coaching culture. It’s worth knowing that there’s a huge difference between those two things:
In the former, coaching is used as a type of conversation by some staff, some leaders and some managers. Coaching is seen as a very practical and useful conversation style: listening, curiosity and open questioning skills, shape some key conversations. This all brings about new engagement of staff, improved solutions, deeper reflection and innovation. There is an interest in management coaching and perhaps you have some external coaches too, supporting your staff.
In the latter, across the whole organisation, the quality of space to think and reflect is improved. Many, or most conversations, even short ones, use a coaching style – asking questions and deep listening – not telling. As part of problem solving, there is an innovation-discovery approach to many everyday and long-term challenges. A solution-focused conversation culture (as opposed to a problem focused culture) is common. That way of communicating is part of everyday conversations, part of how you lead. Part of how you support clients, customers or, in the case of learning organisations, part of how you support students.
Where coaching style conversations are happening in the day-to-day life of many or most staff, your staff become competent at coaching. They keep working on developing their conversational coaching skills. With all those changes, you have a coaching culture!
So now you have reflected on those differences, what is it you really want: a. to train staff in using coaching skills alongside what they do already or b. to bring about a change to a coaching culture?
In coaching, you learn to reflect before you act. A bit of skilled reflection goes a long way and makes sure your actions have greater impact. (Obviously sometimes intuition helps you make fast decisions, but that is another topic for another day!) Before you begin your first culture-change steps, here are some good questions to get you reflecting:
- What will a coaching culture look like in our organisation?
- What benefits might it bring to staff, customers and the organisation?
- What other organisational coaching culture-change journeys can we learn from
Reflect on these questions and discuss them with colleagues. That is a good first step. From here, you’ll find clarity and you might next work towards training staff in coaching skills, or write a project plan with your team.