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Jazzing Up Your Coaching Culture

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

At North Highland, like at many other companies (I imagine), whenever we are doing something in the leadership development space, we know we will inevitably hear, “How will you measure success? What are the anticipated benefits of this program?” These are especially important questions in a consulting organization where this formula is prevalent:

Every hour of training = one hour away from client site = one hour less of billable time = one hour less of revenue.

For every program we do, we must be able to show what the firm has gained from sacrificing revenue. When we decided to roll out a coaching program, we knew the day would come when senior leadership asked how the program had improved our organization. After two years of hosting this program, we can easily show the many benefits that hit our ultimate bottom line. Here are a few we have found to be most important:


1. Creating a Skill Set That is Transferable to the Work We Do

Whenever a group of consultants is trying to solve problems and see what they have learned, you can apply a tool they have mastered to the client site. Our coaching program did just that. I have had numerous emails from our consultants telling me how they used the tools and methods taught in our class with their employees and their clients. This type of endorsement is worth its weight in gold!

2. Confidence That Our Managers Can Develop Their People

Through learning a shared language and practicing with tools that make difficult conversations easier, our people have gained tremendous confidence in their abilities to develop their people. That confidence has allowed them to give and receive feedback in a productive way that helps the organization grow and learn and perform at a higher level.

. Collaboration

We have 27 offices around the country and the United Kingdom. Our people do not get in a room with folks from the other offices or divisions that often. Providing a place where they can meet new colleagues and bond over the common challenge of people development has created collaboration that never would have existed otherwise. This day-and-a-half-long experience is a chance for people to bond in a way that creates trust and allows for relationships to build across all boundaries and geographies.

4. Shared Expectations and accountability.

These go hand in hand. In our course we have shared with our coaches exactly what their role is and is not. They have, in turn, shared this with their coachees post class. This has created shared expectations that allow each to hold the other accountable in a collegial and amenable way on both sides of the relationship.

5. Creating a Vision of Being the Most Enviable Culture

Our senior leadership announced a new vision in January 2019— to be the most enviable culture on the planet. If you are thinking, “Now that’s a lofty goal!” you would be right. This vision resonated with our people for many reasons, however—not the least of which was the coaching culture the firm had worked to develop over the previous two years. If senior leadership had not put their money where their mouth was back in 2017 and said that people development was important, the announcement of that vision would have fallen flat. Instead, it has been embraced and adopted and is helping to continue to transform our culture.

6. Attracting Talent in This Competitive Market

Millennials are the largest part of our workforce. According to the United States Department of Labor, within the next two years they will comprise 50 percent of the workforce and by 2030 they will comprise 75 percent. Given that statistic and the unbelievably low unemployment rate (3.6 percent at the time of this post), attracting and keeping talent is difficult at best. When surveyed, Millennials stated that their development as the most important aspect of their job choice. Having a strong employee value proposition is not only a nicety but a necessity. Our coaching program and the development it provides for people who join the firm has helped us continue to attract fabulous talent in this incredibly difficult people market.

7. Building Baseline Confidence on Having Hard Conversations

Difficult conversations are called difficult conversations because they are just that—difficult! No manager looks forward to having them, yet all managers will have to at some point. Having the language and skills to all give regular, effective feedback significantly decreases the likelihood of difficult conversations. On top of that, when the difficult situation arrives, our mangers feel much more prepared and confident that the conversation will go as well as possible, given the mindset they have developed throughout their training.

If you believe any of these outcomes would be important or helpful in your organization, we hope you will join us in our session, “Jazzing Up Your Coaching Culture” at ATD OrgDev. We are excited to meet you and help you create an awesome coaching culture!

About the Author

Kimberly is a dynamic leader of both talent development strategy and teams. In her tenure with the American Cancer Society (ACS) she has successfully built and sold in a learning and development center of excellence. As a leader and practitioner her experience in talent development and management includes creating strategic development solutions for people, teams, and organizations, and building tactical learning programs to enable success in staff and volunteers. Kimberly leads talent development as a solutions consultant, utilizing systems thinking to design and deliver human performance and development strategies to all levels of staff. Kimberly has also built and implemented key development programs, including leadership development, a coaching cadre, mentoring, volunteer and staff partnership certification, a virtual manager development program, change champions, and a sales and account management suite. In addition, she launched the organization’s competency and skill-based corporate university, which delivered more than 43,000 hours of learning design or delivery to 94 percent of ACS staff, while maintaining a 95 percent satisfaction and positive impact to job rating with participants.

About the Author

Pam Brown is a global program manager in leadership development at North Highland. Pam’s experience in leadership development, management, and coaching spans more than 25 years and includes work in both corporate and higher education organizations. Pam’s expertise lies in creating and facilitating highly impactful workshops that drive real insights and behavioral change at the individual, team, and organizational levels. She holds a master’s degree in organizational behavior and development from Georgia State University and a bachelor of science in economics and business management from Cornell University.

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