What is it and how do I get one?
We’re often asked by clients about creating a ‘coaching culture’ but this actually means different things to different people, so Gemma thought it was worth putting down a few thoughts as to what we at Rambutan believe it to be and how you can go about creating one.
Essentially a coaching culture isn’t a thing you can buy or a programme you can implement it’s just ‘part of the way things are done around here’. Staff would have coaching-style conversations with their teams, customers and stakeholders. They’d ask questions rather than give answers living the adage ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’. You’d routinely see people having open and honest conversations with each other; managers looking for opportunities for people to learn and feedback frequently given.
That’s not to say that it’s all about chatting and having a nice time though; the focus is on improving performance, delivering results and maximising people’s potential. Feedback isn’t just about congratulating someone on a job well done. Feedback on poor performance is how we grow and develop but it needs to be delivered in a way that helps people to learn rather than criticising their mistakes.
All sounds great and pretty simple! Yes, it is a simple idea but also challenging to put into practice. As ever, the senior team need to lead the way, role-modelling the behaviour they want others to adopt. They’ll also need to devolve power to leaders and managers at lower levels – empowering them to make decisions… and mistakes. They need to learn when to adopt a coaching style and when not to. Coaching-style conversations are not right for every situation. Again, the often-used phrase ‘you wouldn’t coach someone out of a burning building’ sums it up better than I can!
A coaching culture is definitely not a soft option; instead it provides a challenging and stimulating place to work that builds a healthy and sustainable business for the future.
So, having established that it’s a great idea, how do you go about creating one? The first thing to understand is what your culture is currently like; a cultural audit as it were. How much does coaching already feature in your organisation and what is the appetite for change?
The next thing to do is to create a compelling vision of the future. How will this new culture help you to deliver your strategy? What’s in it for leaders, managers, the front line, customers and stakeholders? Why should they buy into this new way of working? When creating this inspiring narrative it often works best to involve people across the organisation in its creation. That way it becomes a co-created story that everyone buys into rather than another new ‘initiative’ imposed from on high.
Then it’s a question of getting started; either with a ‘big bang’ launch of the new approach or with a trickle effect down through the organisation; whichever approach you choose it’s important that senior leaders and line managers role-model a coaching style. Depending on their capability these groups might need some coaching to help them adopt this new way of working. Gradually, it will simply become ‘the way things are done around here’.
Tackled in the right way it needn’t cost a lot to implement but the benefits are immeasurable. Give us a call if you’d like to chat about how your organisation could benefit from this approach.