ATD Blog

4 Ways to Foster a Coaching Culture in Your Business

Friday, April 19, 2019
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A coaching culture is a learning culture—a place where everyone is free to fail, learn, receive feedback, and be coached. This kind of culture is a goal for HR and talent development professionals, but developing it in an organization that is used to strict hierarchy, perfectionism, or micromanagement can be tricky. Here are four things you can start doing today to put your organization on the path to a healthier, more productive culture.

1. Get a Coach

Coaching is regarded by many employees as a punitive or corrective measure, not a growth opportunity. These views may change when they see you engage with a coach and talk about the insights you gained through coaching. This influence works both up and down the org chart, and it’s one way HR professionals can encourage other leaders in the organization to be coached.

2. Train Your Coaches

Coaching is a highly skilled profession, and you will want your professional in-house coaches to have ICF (International Coach Federation) certification in coaching competencies. Graduate schools such as Lipscomb University Online have excellent ICF-accredited programs that can prepare your team to coach well and earn an ICF ACC or PCC credential. These programs at nonprofit schools are often less expensive than non-credit corporate training. For example, Lipscomb has a program that provides discounts to students at partner companies that provide or recommend the Master’s in Performance Coaching program to their employees.

3. Train the Whole Organization in Coaching Skills

While not everyone can be a professional coach, everyone can learn some of the basic coaching skills: active listening, asking open-ended thinking questions, building the relationship, and providing structure and certainty in a conversation. The added benefit of these competencies is that they are helpful in all relationships and bring employees immediate value at work and at home. With common understanding and language around coaching skills, employees become more coachable and more willing to instruct instead of criticize or avoid conflict. It is vital that leaders demonstrate the importance of this learning by attending training and practice sessions in coaching skills.

Coaching training is available from many organizations, but don’t forget to reach out to local universities as well. A list can be found at the Graduate School Alliance for Education in Coaching.


4. Foster Mindfulness

Coaching cultures blossom when people are self-aware, and mindfulness can help develop that skill. There is a lot of hype about meditation at work, which has led to a misunderstanding of the power of mindful practices. Mindfulness is simply the coaching competency of being present and of noticing what you are doing. Meditation is a practice that can help improve mindfulness; but simply slowing down and thinking before reacting, listening before answering, reflecting before deciding, and monotasking instead of multitasking can bring a sense of peace to you and those who work with you.

Peace Is Contagious

One of the beauties of coaching is that it can spread from the top of the organization to the bottom or from the bottom to the top. Doing both at the same time can impact culture even faster. HR professionals who model being coached, provide trained coaches, train employees in coaching skills, and practice mindfulness can impact everyone—from frontline employees to C-suite executives.

About the Author

Nina Morel, Ed.D., is dean of professional studies and professor of education at Lipscomb University where she leads an innovative competency-based undergraduate and graduate program. She is the winner of the Milken National Educator Award and has taught at the secondary and university levels. As a school district administrator, Morel created and led a large scale coaching initiative. Morel is the author of “Learning from Coaching: How do I work with an instructional coach to grow as a teacher?” (ASCD, 2014); “How to Build an Instructional Coaching Program for Maximum Capacity” (Corwin, 2012); and "Redefining Competency-Based Education: Competencies for Life" (Business Expert Press, 2018).

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