Is Your Business Ready for the Implementation of a Coaching Culture?

“Coaching is the art of facilitating the performance, learning and development of another.” Myles Downey, the author of ‘Effective Coaching’ encompasses very well, the developmental process that an individual takes when coaching another person.

Coaching is a tool that has now become part of the key components of any toolkit for learning and development, organizational development and talent management professionals. The term “coaching culture” takes this one step further, and implies taking what was previously seen as a tool or a process, and makes it part of the fabric of an organization.

A number of world class organizations have implemented a coaching culture into their businesses, in order to take their most valuable assets – their people, a step further in their personal development, and as a cumulative effect, raise the capability, potential and productivity within their workforce.

But can any organization introduce coaching and create this culture? I am going to use one of the most fundamental coaching models of GROW to illustrate the pre-requisites to focus upon, before considering introducing coaching as a culture change tool into your businesses.

G – Goals

In order to ensure an organizational benefit from coaching, a level of congruence has to exist between the goals of an individual with their department, their division and the company as a whole. Everyone moving in the same direction indicates a strong level of communication (formal and informal), cross-functional collaboration, teamwork and leadership from the top down.

• Are you aware of your organization’s 2014-15 annual plan and targets?

• Is your team aware of this?

• Do they know where their role sits in the picture of the business this year?

• Do you work with your colleagues in other departments on projects?

• Have you received any communication from any of your leaders in the last month on how the business goals are progressing?

After reviewing this list of questions, do you believe the processes, communication channels and existing organizational culture is ready for the introduction of coaching?

R – Reality

Realities can be harsh! If you are commencing on a developmental path, you need to be fully aware of the starting point where you currently reside. This is true from the top organizational level all of the way down to an individual level. What is required for realities to be truly understood and shared is a strong level of trust within a business.

• Do you trust your line manager?

• Do you trust your CEO?

• Is their transparency in the communication within your business?

• Are you honest with yourself about your own level of capability?

Again, really review these questions, and consider whether the trust and transparency is already in place within your organization to enable a smoother transition towards a coaching environment.

O – Options

When a development need is identified in your business, is the solution always to attend a formal training programme? Has true 70:20:10 learning distribution been introduced in your business? When a coaching culture is being embedded within a business, you want options to include a broad spectrum of solutions that an individual, department, division or the whole business can assess when making decisions.

Is creativity encouraged to think outside the box when developing strategies or tactics? Though models are followed in coaching, it is a dynamic process that requires room to manoeuvre and change direction, depending upon how a problem or development area evolves.

Unless a range of solutions are possible, outcomes from coaching will always be similar. Flexibility and creativity are vital in a business for coaching to be successful.

W – Ways Forward

The most successful businesses are the ones who can evolve with markets, consumer needs and a changing environment. The way they can do that is a distribution of authority, creating the ability to make decisions throughout the organization rather than having to follow a hierarchical structure or laborious decision-making process.

In order to decide a way forward within coaching sessions, an individual needs a sense of ownership and accountability within their role and indeed their lives.

Bureaucratic or process-oriented businesses were very successful in the industrial age. However, throughout the service age and moving into the online age, individuals cannot be “babysat” within their roles by their line manager. They require guidance, but space to both make decisions and make mistakes. Are you able to do this without repercussions in your business? If not, then maybe you are not ready to introduce coaching.


Coaching is not just another “tool” that you can merely introduce into your virtual organizational toolkit. It is not just another “process” that managers can follow to get more out of their team members. Coaching is an “initiator of culture change” within a business. But it also requires a number of existing cultural foundations to be in place in order for it to be successful.

Chris Jones has worked in the learning & development space for 15 years, at all levels within a number of customer-oriented businesses. He has led L&D functions across the UK, European, Asia-Pacific and MENA regions, as well as holding roles as an independent consultant for world class automotive and FMCG organisations. He currently heads up the L&D function for Home Centre, a large concept within the Landmark Group spanning ten countries, while working part-time as an online tutor for the Global MBA at Durham Business School, UK.

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