“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where —” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
I often see organisations initiating multiple culture-shaping projects to shift the people and culture to the highest level of performance and productivity. However, some organisations may have chosen to develop a coaching culture simply because their rivals have started to do so, or they may feel that a coaching culture is a trend that their organisation shouldn’t miss. If this is the mentality, the “change strategy” will likely fail because the organisation has been unable first to determine its purpose and objective. Just as Alice, they don’t care where they are heading.
An organisation’s purpose should go beyond profit. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 79 per cent of business leaders believe that an organisation’s purpose is central to a business’s success, and millennials who have a solid connection with their employer’s purpose are 5.3 times more likely to stay.1 So, it’s worthwhile to find out more compelling reasons why building a coaching culture is essential.
Before you begin your discovery, you should ask yourself these questions:
1. Why a coaching culture? Why not other cultures? Why not a high-performance culture, diversity and inclusion culture or creative and innovation culture?
2. What do you most want to get out of the coaching culture for your organisation?
3. How can a coaching culture impact your organisation’s performance?
To have a strong purpose
As a professional coach, it is always high on the agenda to coach my clients with the idea of identifying a purpose and objective. Having a vital purpose is not about achieving the goals or pursuing profit; it aligns your goals with your purpose. The purpose and intent are centred on you. As you decide to build a coaching culture in your organisation, having your intention in your mind will help, especially when you’re rolling out a tactical plan and communication strategy. Your true purpose will convince the audience (employees).
The coaching culture with other cultures
You will need to consider aligning the coaching culture with an organisation-wide leadership culture change.
Many organisations fail to integrate their business strategy, structure change plan, people, and talent strategy. A coaching strategy can’t work by itself without clear linkages to people and business. Coaching must be linked to the organisation’s plan to add value to a company.
Ask yourself the questions below:
1. What sort of leadership culture do we need?
2. To build a thriving coaching culture, what sort of organisational culture do we need to have in place to support it?
3. How can we leverage coaching to maximise engagement, the learning and development of employees, performance management, motivation and innovation?
4. How do we integrate our coaching strategy with our business and talent strategies to ensure maximum synergy and effectiveness?
Often, a well-designed coaching plan has no integration with the organisation’s development strategies and no direct contribution to the organisation’s vision, mission, and values. Without integration, it will not be easy to sustain and deliver maximised benefits.
What would be the fastest and most effective way to make coaching widely practised in an organisation?
The answer will always be for the coaching strategy to seamlessly integrate with the organisation’s business strategy and moral compass.
Traditionally, coaching has been used by learning and HR practitioners for their learning and development programmes, leadership competency frameworks, corporate values setup, and talent classification. It’s rarely used by business managers formally, although many managers are coach-managers who value coaching as part of their leadership style. Therefore, it must be led by the head who will set the coaching agenda, regardless of which division the head of coaching is from. They must make coaching part of their responsibility as people managers.
When coaching and business are integrated
The coaching strategy is fully integrated into the business strategy (e.g. a coaching task force of different units and the coaching head is not from HR or L&D). In this scenario, coaching is embedded in a change of management, millennial leadership, engagement, leadership development, performance improvement and skill development.
This hardly happens nowadays in business practices and structures, but it will probably become one of the more common practices in the future. By having the coaching strategy integrated into the business strategy in the first place, the organisation’s strategy will be propelled to the next level. The entire organisation will use coaching in their day-to-day business practice. Everyone discusses issues openly, embracing openness as one of their core values and empowering people to make certain decisions, challenging people’s ideas with a dignified approach, asking questions to spark creativity and innovation, and making people’s development the priority. All these practices are driven by business, not HR nor talent management, and certainly not by the learning and development team.
“Coaching becomes the way we do business with all our stakeholders.”
Not all companies want to build a coaching culture because of many reasons. Some of the reasons could be:
• A company expects 100 per cent order-follow, with less room for deeper discussion. They see “fast and efficient” as the keys to success.
• A company director who prefers a top-down approach, expecting the company to follow his direction 100 per cent and ensuring they are up to speed with execution.
• A manufacturing-based company that thinks coaching doesn’t apply to their day-to-day routine job.
• A boss who believes employees need to go through hardship with absolute followership.
• Coaching is perceived as a slow communication style that doesn’t work in today’s fast-paced business environment.
It’s all right if the company doesn’t invest in creating a coaching culture. Maybe they don’t see the value of coaching yet, or they think this is not a good time yet for coaching culture.
What will be the most significant benefit gained from a coaching culture?
You or your organisation may want to build a:
1. Fun-filled and high-empowerment culture that attracts a young workforce
2. Culture that focuses on creativity and innovative breakthroughs
3. Culture that empowers employees to integrate work and life
4. Organisation that focuses on development and builds tomorrow’s leaders
5. High performance-driven organisation
Regardless of any objectives that you wish to achieve within your organisation through building a coaching culture, here are some of the benefits and commonalities of coaching cultures:
• Empower employees to take greater responsibility for their actions
• Communicate more effectively
• Work better with others to achieve a shared goal
Find out how building a future-ready coaching culture benefits your organisation and how your organisations use coaching to achieve strategic goals
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the world’s largest organisation leading the global advancement of the coaching profession and fostering coaching’s role as an integral part of a thriving society.
Founded in 1995, its 50,000-plus members located in more than 145 countries and territories work toward the common goals of enhancing awareness of coaching and upholding the integrity of the profession through lifelong learning and maintaining the highest ethical standards. Through the work of its six unique family organisations, ICF empowers professional coaches, coaching clients, organisations, communities and the world through coaching.
In India, ICF is represented by six vibrant chapters, all led by volunteers — ICF Bengaluru, ICF Chennai, ICF Delhi NCR, ICF Hyderabad, ICF Mumbai, and ICF Pune.
The author, Ng Eng Hooi is the head of organisation development and global master coach for a major technology firm in Asia, where his key mandate is to develop talents and learning strategies for organisational development and also to create a coaching culture for future growth. He is writing a book called ‘Building a Sustainable Coaching Culture’, and believes coaching is the key enabler to achieving business success. He is also a Professional Certified Coach (PCC, ICF), a certified trainer, and a diversity and inclusion facilitator. He has more than fifteen years of corporate working experience as well as consulting experience.