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ATD Blog

Developing a Coaching Culture


Mon Jun 18 2012


A company’s culture has a profound impact on its business performance. It has been widely recognized that in today’s hostile and dynamic economic climate the old managerial ‘telling’ style does not produce desired results. We can notice a shift towards more innovative, inclusive and engaging ways of managing, i.e. coaching. Creating a coaching culture means ingraining coaching to underlie all the relationships and dynamics in the organization, and using coaching behaviors as a means of managing, influencing and communicating with others. Such culture is believed to produce measurable business results, help to achieve organizational objectives and improve employee engagement. It is not hard to see why so many business leaders want it, however developing a coaching culture is not easy and raises similar challenges as any other culture change process. So, how do you build it?

First of all, coaching has to become part of organizational strategy and values – the organization has to be clear about why they want a coaching culture and what it will look like. An organizational culture starts with leaders at the top as they set the expectations, tone and pace. Therefore, they are the ones that have to support it and ideally role model and champion it. The best way of increasing their acceptance is to offer it to them and allow the leaders to experience its benefits in practice. Once the higher levels of organization are on board, coaching then has to be understood by everyone else in the organization. This may require not only explaining it but also selling it to them, showing that it makes business sense. However, in order to demonstrate that, coaching has to have a clear methodology – clear business outcomes that are measurable and relate to live projects and work issues.


Coaching should be also fully integrated in all the HR and organizational processes such as performance management, reward, job descriptions, selection and promotion criteria, leadership capabilities, managerial competencies and the like. And of course, for all of this to happen successfully you need to build an internal capability and constantly communicate, share knowledge and promote coaching practice across the whole business.

Developing a coaching culture is a long and laborious process and faces as many difficulties as any other transformational, large scale organizational initiative. However, with the steps above being consequently followed, a proper plan for implementation and dealing with resistance being put in place, it can be achieved successfully… And it will certainly be worth it!

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