Coaching in recent times has gained paramount importance in organizations that are looking at building & transforming with enhanced employee capability & increased employee engagement . Coaching initiatives have carved a place for themselves in organization wide roll-outs and are included as part of people charter. Organizations are building internal coaches to support employees for various different areas across performance, business , mindset etc.
According to a 2020 survey conducted globally by ICF (International coaching federation) it is estimated that there were approximately 71,000 coach practitioners in 2019, an increase of 33% on the 2015 estimate. This definitely emphasizes that there is a growing need of more coaches than ever before.
Something interesting observed in the survey was when respondents were asked about the 3 potential obstacles to building a strong coaching culture. The top 3 obstacles identified were
- Limited support from senior leaders (50%).
- Inability to measure impact of coaching (42%).
- Lack of budget for coaching activities (38%).
Leaders seem to have understood the need of coaching and want to be a coach rather than a mentor in this VUCA world , however it is still a long way to go as employees have to develop a mindset to reach out to a coach who can help them to untap solutions to challenges they face .
Based on the obstacles identified by the survey we can explore on some approaches how to build a successful coaching culture. Some of them are :-
- Leaders as early adopters : To successfully implement Coaching as a culture it needs to have a top down approach , leaders must be bought in & convinced with the reason of building a culture of coaching .These leaders once they become internal coaches will enhance the credibility & sustainability of the program. They will realise that their raison d'être or their purpose as a leader is to become a competent coach & nurture other journeys to success. For this ,it is important to get good education providers to standardize and create programs by referring to global coaching competencies laid down by ICF (International coach federations).Once these programs are delivered across level to managers & above , every leader will have similar coaching approach thereby creating a uniform coaching experience across leaders for every employee.
- Team Coaching as a starting point: Engaging an external / internal coach to coach teams might be great idea to fasten the cultural acceptance of coaching. Team coaching is when the team comes together as a one functional unit and works toward common goal led by the coach. The coach emphasizes & directs the unique strengths of each team member and manoeuvres through the dynamics of the team. Small goals are identified , achieved & celebrated, this builds the confidence muscle and closes the lacuna which urges the team to repeat again.
The organization should also emphasize on psychological safety at team level, this is important to let people bring their authentic selves. Another emphasis should be to develop a Growth mindset . With growth mindset , one changes ones perspective to open to the world of possibilities , this helps to develop broader perspective , find valid choices and finally take an informed decision. Teams & thereby team members with growth mindset have a constant yearning to learn and see every situation as an opportunity for growth. If this mindset is used to brainstorm on every new challenge , over a period the team members will develop a natural inclination towards Growth mindset . This will contribute to the larger goal of coaching for success with growth mindset.
- Coach Community creation: It is important for budding coaches to have a sense of belonging and responsibility via a community creation. It also helps to discuss cases , approaches and best practices. Sharing positive /challenging case stories at community level can help a coach to become more effective & capable. Coaches can identify their area of core expertise/inclination & can become business coach , performance coach , relationship coach , mindset coach , education coach etc. Creating a central repository /portal where coaches can register and share their core expertise might be good way for employees to reach out for specific areas /issues. Slack channel can be used as tools for community creation.
If the above approaches are constructively and consistently utilized, then eventually the construct of imitative learning comes into play. As it is said that a fruit does not fall far away from the tree, so shall managers who have been nurtured by capable leaders will apply the construct of imitative learning and become like them. This in turn will create an army of capable leaders and a strong culture of successful coaching. Using an analogy, Coaching is like the art of gardening, you need to nurture, provide the environment, watch them grow & soon enough the organization will reap the ceaseless benefits of a well-intentioned effort.