Building a Coaching Culture Starts with Your People Leaders

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Coaching is an excellent way to help an organization. But have you considered how to implement it and make it stick for everyone in your organization—from executives to individual contributors? People leaders are the most obvious role impacted by a coaching initiative. They’ll need to incorporate coaching into all of their manager functions.

Fortunately, coaching isn’t just another task on a manager’s long to-do list. An organization-wide coaching approach offers some critical benefits for managers, too. In fact, more than a quarter of HR executives feel that executives and managers benefit THE MOST from coaching initiatives.

10 ways managers benefit from coaching programs:

  1. Managers will decrease turnover. Coaching will increase retention rate of employees, saving the organization from losing valued talent and experience and having to spend money trying to fill empty positions. It will also save managers from having to constantly re-work their areas of management as new employees are brought in who require training and extra attention from both managers and fellow employees.
  2. Managers will produce more impactful results. Coaching creates stronger bottom-line results, as higher productivity, both from individuals and groups of individuals, leads to higher revenue as well as the successful reaching of other business goals. This will relieve management as executives will be less likely to put pressure on them when the organization’s business goals are being met.
  3. Managers will receive feedback. Receiving feedback is one of the top desires of any employee, managers included. In fact, they need more feedback than ever. When coaching is embraced at all levels of the organization, managers are better equipped to receive feedback. And their direct reports are more comfortable giving it.
  4. Managers will lead more productive teams. A coaching culture will increase productivity throughout the entirety of the organization, an element of organization performance that is often left for managers to improve within their personal area of management. Managers will see this most clearly within the teams they manage, as individual contributors will be more productive, team communication and collaboration will increase, and goals will be more quickly and successfully met.
  5. Employees will be better-equipped to take action. Peer-to-peer coaching gives managers some breathing room, as not every individual contributor will feel the need to take every little thing to the manager for feedback, instead looking to fellow contributors to work out the problem. And when situations are brought to management, there will be a foundation for clear and useful communication that focuses on the problem.
  6. Managers will be more effective. Coaching is also essential to helping new managers. Making the transition to a management position can be a difficult one. But between peer-to-peer coaching with other managers, feedback from those being managed, and the skills learned from being coached, new managers will be able to shift into a leadership position with high chances of success.
  7. Mangers will build better relationships. Coaching will increase trust between managers and individual contributors, strengthening those relationships. While coaching itself allows employees to have a voice and be assured that it will be heard, it is with the building of trust that employees will have the courage, and understood support, to be innovative, solution finders when problems arise. And if your individual contributors are coming up with solutions, that’s time your managers don’t have to spend doing the same thing.
  8. Managers will have focus points to guide their decisions. Coaching can be used to set and progress toward business priorities. Your organization will have an aligned business strategy set by your executives. Such a strategy aids your managers, who no longer have to blindly attempt to achieve the entirety of your business’ objectives. With business priorities set, managers can use it as a focus to give their teams vision and guide important decision-making opportunities. Making their lives easier and pleasing executives who see their business goals being reached.
  9. Managers will be able to coach up. Not only will managers be able to receive more feedback, but they’ll also be enabled to provide feedback, and not just down the ladder. A coaching culture will enable managers to be able to reach across the hierarchical divide and professionally and respectfully coach up to those above them. Allowing managers, who often have insight into what areas within an organization are overlooked, to help direct the attention of executives, and others, whose focus is on the organization as a whole.
  10. Managers will empower and engage employees. A coaching culture will create an atmosphere conducive to employee empowerment, that same empowerment gives employees the incentive to take ownership of their work and become engaged in performing well. An empowered employee is a powerful force in any organization and an incredible boon to any manager.

How Coaching Creates Engaged Employees

Empowered employees take ownership of their projects, they innovate and try new things. Empowered employees do not need micromanaging. Empowered employees are productive and engaged. Empowered employees are every manager’s dream.

How exactly does coaching create this empowered employee?

Coaching does more than just give employees a voice, it gives managers the wherewithal to hear that voice. This exchange is crucial to employee empowerment, but it is only the beginning.

Developing a culture of coaching will require a great deal of effort from managers (and every level of the organization) to begin with, as opening up a channel for these exchanges takes time, patience, and practice. Practice, because your managers, who are often expected to provide solutions for employees, will have to learn not to give answers, but to provide the opportunity for employees to determine their own solutions. The role of your managers will shift from providing solutions, to providing support as employees take ownership of their problems and their progress.


Managers and Coaching Up

One of the benefits of a coaching culture, is that your managers not only coach each other and their team members, but they also have the opportunity to coach up. Entering into a coaching-up situation, however, requires slightly different tactics than other coaching situations do.

Like all elements of coaching, it requires that your managers be engaged in mindfulness. They need to be aware of and understand the wider implications of issues, situations, and problems. This doesn’t necessarily mean they need to be addressing the situation on an organization-wide scale, though they’ll often need to be aware of that scope. But at the least they’ll need to be aware of how the situation effects more than just them and their teams.

When coaching up there are three things a manager should keep in mind, those three things can be summed up with one word each. Consideration, Position, and Request. Simply put, this means approaching their executive or other superior with respect, to thoughtfully provide their thoughts on the situation with a possible solution, and to end with an open-ended piece of dialogue that opens the conversation up for further discussion.

Managers may often want to enter into coaching-up dialogue in team or group meetings. This may increase the pressure on the manager, but it also serves to indicate the importance of their attempts and is less likely to be dismissed out of hand.

Initially, this may be difficult for your managers to feel comfortable doing. In time that discomfort will fade as your managers see the benefits of speaking up and sharing.

Your managers have insightful and important views to share; creating a culture where they are better able to share those views will only benefit the organization as a whole.


How to Engage Managers in Coaching

As your managers learn to let their teams take control of their own progress and offer solutions, they’ll start to see many of the results of coaching mentioned above. And they’ll likely come to the conclusion you were hoping for all along. Coaching is definitely worth the effort.

Embracing coaching organization-wide will enable and encourage managers to get comfortable with coaching every day in any situation. That is how you make coaching sustainable.

RLAA is an acronym that any organization can use to make a coaching initiative stick. It stands for:





Build these four elements into your initiative to make sure it sticks.

Develop a Culture That Helps Your People Thrive

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