We usually think of culture creation as a haphazard process that just happens. That doesn’t have to be the case. While you can’t order people to absorb the team’s culture, you can do things to push it along. Soren Kaplan recently wrote an article on Six Ways to Create a Culture of Innovation for Fast Company. The article is a great blueprint for creating cultural change in a big sense. What if you were to apply his six ideas to creating a culture of coaching? Here are the six ideas (in bold) and how they fit a coaching culture:
1. Be intentional with your innovation intent. The goal is to frame the world in the terms you want to see.
- Why would you want to support coaching?
- What does it give you that nothing can or will?
- How does it affect your team and your customers?
One client of mine is working to develop a team of leaders building leaders. She knows that’s more than having a coaching element. She also knows that it won’t happen without coaching.
2. Create a structure for unstructured time. Think of this as an incubation time. Eggs don’t hatch as soon as they are laid. The baby bird has to develop in a protected atmosphere for a while.
- How will you take away rigidity in your work expectations?
- How will you let them explore their ideas about coaching and what it can mean for their life?
- What will you do to guarantee your team time to incubate and grow under your protection but without your direction?
3. Step in, then step back. One company I work with regularly has “lunch and learn” sessions designed to provide a structure that allows exploration. The participants decide how best to use that time. Within a company, you can find ways to put people together. For entrepreneurs the task is a little different but still doable. For example, a mastermind group gives you a structure to play around with your ideas.
4. Measure what’s meaningful. How will you know you are successful? Finding your return-on-investment is sometimes a difficult if not impossible task. However, you can measure satisfaction levels. Ask your people “How is this making a difference for you?” The answers will be enlightening. Retention is often an important measure of coaching effectiveness.
5. Give “worthless” rewards. Find ways to celebrate every day. Who doesn’t like to get recognition for who they are and what they do? Just imagine encouraging peer coaching for personal growth opportunities. What’s stopping you from buying lunch as a way of recognizing people who are exploring new horizons through coaching? You should check out the article from Sean Blaze on 35 ways to do this cheaply.
6. Get symbolic. You know when you have entered a church, police station, government office, or YMCA. You see their symbols everywhere. What are your symbols that say “we coach here?” Your mission and vision statements, stories, key phrases are all part of the culture. When you figure those pieces out, your culture become even more obvious.
What do you think? Which piece strikes you as the one for your focus?