051916_building blocks

Building Blocks of a Coaching Culture

Friday, May 20, 2016

Using my experience and research, I have formulated the following definition of a coaching organization: An organization in which the culture and its infrastructure encourage everyone to learn, practice, and engage in mindful coaching conversations to get work done, accomplish goals, and reach both personal and strategic growth and success. A mouthful, isn’t it? 

What does this definition really mean? I believe there are three building blocks that comprise a rich coaching organization. 

Building Block 1 

All employees learn and practice basic coaching tools and mindsets. 

These can include: 

  • carefully planned activities to transfer coaching skills to all employees 
  • building trust through openly challenging existing mental models 
  • tracking movement from old to new behaviors and results 
  • following a common coaching map and conversation model to navigate everything from complex project management to simple, everyday interactions. 

Building Block 2 


Everyone in the organization understands and uses coaching language and dialogue skills. 

Imagine that all employees speak the same “new language”—in essence, the asking and sharing of hidden assumptions that tend to block real communication. Everything from strategic planning and leadership to decision making and technology must incorporate and foster dialogue. 

Building Block 3 


A systems infrastructure for hardwiring coaching into the culture and processes throughout the organization. 

Basically, this involves the alignment of all process, procedures, and protocols as coaching becomes part of the organization’s vision, values, and behaviors. 

Building a Coaching Organization,” the May 2016 issue of TD At Work, provides details on each of these building blocks in addition to several job aids and case studies. These tools can guide practitioners through a four-phase action plan for transforming their company into one that supports and values coaching. 

The benefits of this kind of sustained effort are many and can be clearly measured and tracked. You can build a workplace environment where people continuously seek higher levels of performance, support and challenge one another, offer their “best selves,” accomplish goals, and achieve your organization’s bottom-line goals.

About the Author

With more than 25 years of experience and a doctorate in human resource and organization development, Dr. Virginia Bianco-Mathis is considered a leader in her field. Her background includes a core set of industry positions, extensive consulting with corporate and agency executives, and publications and presentations in the areas of organizational change, leadership development, consulting skills, executive team building and facilitation, coaching, career management, conflict and dialogue, and strategic planning.  Dr. Bianco-Mathis has held positions in human resources, strategy, and organization development at C&P Telephone, AT&T, Lockheed Martin, and The Artery Organization. Presently, she is a Professor in the School of Business, Chair of the Department of Management and Marketing, at Marymount University.  She teaches courses in organization development, team and group dynamics, leadership, consulting skills, executive coaching, and strategy. She also is a partner with the Strategic Performance Group. Her present consulting engagements include leadership development, executive coaching, strategic planning, team building, and organizational change. Current clients include AARP, Department of Agriculture, Seyfarth Law, American Society of Clinical Oncology, Phillips Corporation, MSRB, and Next Century Computing.  Dr. Bianco-Mathis has given major presentations at several international conferences, and has written numerous articles for the Washington Business Journal and a blog (“On Success”) for The Washington Post.  

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