How to introduce a coaching culture

We have seen the powerful impact that our team of coaches has on the development and progress of the learners we support. This approach can also deliver huge benefits when implemented in the workplace between managers and their direct reports.

Amy Forrest, Managing Director of First Intuition East Anglia, hosts a discussion with a panel of experts on building and maintaining organisational coaching cultures.

How to introduce a coaching culture

How to introduce a coaching culture

We have seen the powerful impact that our team of coaches has on the development and progress of the learners we support. This approach can also deliver huge benefits when implemented in the workplace between managers and their direct reports.

Amy Forrest, Managing Director of First Intuition East Anglia, hosts a discussion with a panel of experts on building and maintaining organisational coaching cultures.

This article shares highlights from the session where guest speakers, listed below, joined Amy Forrest to discuss how to introduce a coaching culture, including:

  • The benefits of having a coaching culture in a business
  • What employers can do to introduce a coaching culture
  • Techniques for coaching junior staff

Speakers and panelists

  • Iain Hunter, Leadership and Management Skills and Development Coach at First Intuition
  • Andrew Whytock, Senior Manager – FS Risk at EY
  • Carolyn Connery, Head of Employer and Provider Development at Chartered Management Institute
  • Andrew Baker, Chief Internal Auditor, Canada Life (UK)
  • Ruth Kudzi, CEO and Founder of Optimus Coach Academy
  • Lisa Brice, Director at Choose2b

You can watch the recording of the session by clicking the button below.

Apprenticeships: The past, present and future

The benefits of having a coaching culture in a business

What is a coaching culture?

A workplace that actively promotes coaching is a fundamental aspect of the business’s day-to-day activities. It is much more than that annual appraisal cycle where you check in once a year. A coaching culture is an ongoing integral part and ethos within the organisation.

What are the differences between coaching, mentoring and training?

Mentoring:

Sometimes mentoring is used as a replacement for other kinds of development opportunities. Mentoring when it’s done well is generally a more experienced knowledgeable, often senior individual within the organisation, who provides guidance, support and advice to a less experienced person on a long-term basis. It is normally informal and quite broad in its remit that involves going beyond a specific job role. The mentor will use their own experience and provide their opinions and insights as they give guidance.

Training: 
Training is a more formal, structured and organised development that is often led by an expert and follows a syllabus. The aim of which is to develop a specific skill or a set of competencies to upskill the individual and for general professional development.

Coaching:

1. What are the benefits of a coaching culture for the individual?

  • Letting people know they will get things wrong, that is normal, but when they do they will receive the appropriate support to avoid repeating that failure
  • When an individual knows they are supported it gives them the confidence to try and encourages productivity
  • Supporting people and giving them the opportunity to develop increases mutual trust in the organisation
  • A coaching culture encourages honesty and transparency. If someone feels comfortable giving and receiving feedback it will not lead to conflict and they are more likely to see feedback as a gift rather than criticism
  • Safe space to try out and discuss different things freely

2. What are the benefits of a coaching culture to a business?

  • Goal congruence, when an individual’s goals set are aligned with the business’s objectives it makes a more effective and productive workforce
  • Inclusivity, feedback allows individuals to recognise their abilities and where they add value
  • Productivity, a supported, trusted and motivated workforce are more likely to be happy and therefore more productive
  • The main reason people leave their jobs is a lack of career progression. A coaching culture encourages the opportunity to develop individuals which makes for a more experienced and committed workforce. This then helps to retain staff

3. What are the benefits of a coaching culture to the coach?

  • Job satisfaction as you are helping people to develop and progress in their careers. You also get to know people better
  • Positivity through having the opportunity to coach people, see the results and share experiences

How has the introduction of apprenticeships supported a coaching culture in the workplace?

  • Apprenticeships support a coaching culture as they ensure mentors give the time to their apprentices. Mentors enjoy spending time with apprentices and the more they are involved in the apprenticeships, the more interest they have. It is a mutual benefit
  • Apprenticeships support the development of talent based on coaching culture. This helps to support young people on their career journey

What employers can do to introduce a coaching culture from the…

4 out of 5 managers have fallen into their role with no real managerial training. There is a need for managers and leaders to be able to adapt, be agile, foster communication and possess other softer skills. Employers often spend a lot of time investing in technical skills but ignore soft skills. People are therefore not prepared when they need to step into management roles. Investing in management means they will be able to better manage with more impact.

…qualification’s perspective

  • Managers should take some time to reflect on themselves, their management style and how they can be a better leader. Senior managers should gather data to help them reflect such as exit interviews when someone resigns and feedback surveys from staff, ensuring people are listened to and heard
  • Leaders should be trained and supported to be able to distinguish between coaching and mentoring. Coaching is often for a specific purpose whilst mentoring is a general development tool
  • Explore introducing a culture of reverse mentoring where a senior leader gains the perspective of a junior colleague. This creates an environment to learn new skills and explore and introduces a culture of collective coaching that encourages everyone to learn from each other’s experiences and styles. This encourages diverse perspectives that help the manager to better understand individual members of their team and what drives them
  • Adopt a more active listening culture and be empathetic to colleagues. Managers should try to avoid being the go-to point for solutions but instead work with their colleagues to build their confidence and problem-solving skills to arrive at the solution by themselves
  • Managers can learn to ask more powerful questions to help support colleagues and stimulate their thinking. This will help them develop their reflection skills and create a culture where team members feel comfortable and confident to share their ideas and concerns
  • The feedback that managers and leaders provide should be specific, actionable, timely and shared in private

…employer’s perspective

  • Employers should create a culture where people are allowed to fail and can move on quickly – it is how you respond to failure and bounce back from it
  • When hiring, businesses should look at the candidate’s agility, thirst for learning and development, ability to think critically, and stakeholder skills
  • Consider how are you going to work with the person as an individual. Rather than a one-size-fits-all managing approach
  • Be clear that it is a safe space and people can express what they need to. The coach needs to give the time and space to let the coachee talk and think for them to reflect and grow
  • Coaching is also about helping employers improve their performance and well-being. Employers should ask critical questions and consider how they think and their wider development
  • Taking action together – what are we going to do about this
  • Structure conversations carefully: ‘I notice that you said/ did that, talk to me about that’ rather than ‘Why did you do that?’. This gives the conversation back over
  • The 3 key things to have a coaching culture ethos:
    • Have senior commitment who give people the time and space. A coaching experience is going to differ but consistency in the appetite for it to happen is key
    • Create time for your people, if you don’t it is going to be hard for them to reflect and learn
    • Patience, the shift to a coaching mindset is going to take practice. It is going to take time before you see the results and embed it

…individual’s perspective

  • Coaches should ask open questions, focusing on the person they are coaching, and not telling them what they know
  • Coaching conversations are helping someone to get new insight so they can rewire the way they think, feel and act
  • The coach should encourage the coachee to find the answers to the questions themselves. Coaches don’t always have to show the coachee the answer and should recognise that even as a coach they might not know everything
  • Allow other people to make decisions and to get it wrong. If not, we are taking control of their decisions and trust is lost
  • Be clear about what is expected in a situation and what each person’s role is. Be clear about what way they are going to be working with them in a particular situation, coaching for performance or coaching for development
  • Recognise that the coachee’s personal life may impact their work
  • Don’t judge and apply assumptions to whole groups of people
  • If someone is not willing to make a decision, it is often because they are feeling under threat. Therefore help them to feel safe and create an environment where they know their job is not under threat. No one is uncoachable but people feel unsafe in some environments so they make bad decisions or mistakes
  • The coach should also ensure they are in the right headspace so they can focus and not bring their problems into the coaching space. Heightened stress will not encourage the best conversations. Think about you before you focus on them
  • Be sure to have structure and a process in place that is measurable, and to have training, quality, and a model of what good looks like to ensure a coaching culture works effectively

Techniques for coaching junior staff

The bQUICK Coaching Model – Lisa Brice

b – be present

Q – Question the situation

U – Understand the outcome

I – Investigate the solution

C – Conclude the action

K – Keep in touch

What is important when bQUICK Coaching?

  • Be present
  • Take a partnership approach
  • Build rapport and connection
  • Mirror the person’s energy, body language, pace and voice tonality
  • Focus your attention on the person
  • Listen carefully and let the person do the bulk of the talking
  • Ask questions with genuine curiosity
  • Let the person come up with their solutions
  • Avoid giving advice; your role is to facilitate their thinking
  • Summarise your understanding often
  • Give the person time to reflect and make their own choices
  • Have the person commit to their next step
  • Agree when and how and check back in

Further resources

2023 FITT Forums 

First Intuition’s Leadership & Management Courses

The Scarf Model – David Rock

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey (Book)

Atomic Habits – James Clear (Book)

Thinking Environment – Nancy Kline

Turn the Ship Around – David L Marquet (Book)

Helping People Change: Coaching for Compassion: Richard Boyatzis (Book)

CMI Good Management Report

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