Coaching and Mentoring : A Coaching Culture Made Easy

Sarah Baker, Learning & Development Specialist, Righttrack Consultancy. Sarah has over 10 years’ experience in Learning & Development. During her career, she has worked with the likes of Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Sanctuary Group, Tesco plc and Welsh Water. Sarah has a long list of qualifications and accreditations including Insights Discovery, NLP, Transactional Analysis and Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Evaluation. Sarah is undoubtedly a specialist in her field with a particular passion for modern management development, emotional intelligence and one-to-one coaching. 

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change." - Charles Darwin

Coaching is one of the greatest things a manager can do for their employees, yet it is often overlooked. Reasons for this vary, from managers feeling that they do not have the time to invest in coaching individual employees through to having no performance issues within the team so there is no need to coach. Although this may be true there is always a need for coaching. 

Coaching is an important part of any successful performance management initiative. In a time where we are asking employees to achieve more, often with fewer resources, coaching increases employee engagement as well as helping improve individual performance which can significantly impact on business outcomes. So what is coaching and how do we go about creating a coaching culture?

The 2 main components of coaching focus around feedback and goal setting, usually highlighting 1 or 2 aspects of performance that the individual wants to improve. Coaching involves individuals identifying what they want to achieve and more importantly how they can achieve it. It is based on provoking thought and consideration rather than giving instructions, asking questions rather than telling and holding individuals accountable for their own actions.

Creating a coaching culture within your organisation could be one of the most important contributions you make. A coaching culture is one where everyone understands the goals of the organisation and the individual contribution required in order to achieve them. In order to avoid cynicism and ensure coaching is successful in your organisation it is important to address the following:-

Make a clear link between the coaching strategy and the core business strategy

Coaching needs to be embedded into the organisational strategy and performance culture which then needs to be cascaded clearly to leaders and managers. It also needs to be useful to both coach and coachee on a personal level. Coaching is ineffective when it is forced on managers who do not understand the relevance of it and you may face some resistance. Sell it to them, what are the benefits? What’s In It For Me (WIIFM)??  After all coaching requires a time commitment from each and every manager in order to be successful.

Make coaching a tool for everyone

All too often I am asked to coach individuals who have been identified as ‘underperformers’ and told that “this is their last chance”. Coaching is an effective performance management tool but if used only in this capacity it can be perceived as a ‘punishment’ which greatly reduces its effectiveness. Link coaching to your Talent Management strategy and focus on developing potential and high performance.  This makes coaching a positive, accessible tool available to all staff.

Coaching flows in all directions, up, down and laterally so don’t forget managers and leaders will benefit too. They are positive role models within the workplace and can be ambassadors for your new coaching culture. They need to be seen to ‘walk the talk’ as they say.

Training for managers

It is important to develop a shared understanding of how to coach within any organisation, training and mentoring forms an important part of that.  Managers who are able to master the art of coaching are able to have powerful conversations and ask poignant questions in order to become a catalyst for change so they need to have the right tools for the job.

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