Posts on Jan 1970

Six Ways to Create a Coaching Culture

coaching culture

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?

Read More

Early Signs of a Coaching Culture

Early warning signsLanguage often foreshadows the development of a coaching culture.  Imagine yourself in the midst of a major transition.  You want your top leaders to show their independence.  In short, you want them to lead.  You decide that coaching is the way to make this happen.  And so you begin.  You set appointments; you support your team as they make goals and set plans.  You struggle to be as coach-like as possible.  How will you know it is working before you see results?  The answer is to listen to what your team is saying.

Coaching phrases will start to pop up in conversations. Unless you are listening for them, the language changes will be so soft that they are noticeable.  If you are listening, you’ll start to hear things like:

  • Wow!  I just had an AHA!
  • What do you want to do with it? (You’ll also start to hear more questions and fewer declarations.)

I’m familiar with one coach at a company who is fond of saying, “Would you like to unpack that idea” in her coaching calls.  At a recent meeting, I heard three different people use that phrase.

Accountability becomes a natural part of conversations. One key part of coaching is the management of progress and accountability. Think of the answers to questions like:

  • What do you want?
  • What will you do to get it?
  • When will you have it done?

In a simple sense, people who engage in coaching start to think in goal setting and goal making language.  Phrases around goal setting will show up regularly in everyday conversations.

Behaviors trickle out from your beginning.  Once you start coaching your team leaders, you will see them start to replicate the behavior with their direct reports.  A sure sign of a coaching culture is when the willingness to coach and to be coached become important expectations.  You may not be seeing tangible results from the coaching, but they are coming.

As you work to develop coaching as an important part of your team’s culture, you want to make sure and stay the course.  Coaching is not a quick fix.  I like the way Daniel Goleman describes it, “Our research found that the coaching style is used least often.  Many leaders told us they don’t have the time in this high-pressure economy for the slow and tedious work of teaching people and helping them grow. . . Leaders who ignore this style are passing up a powerful tool: its impact on climate and performance are markedly positive.”

Language clues may let you smile while you are waiting for results.  What do you think?  What other clues can you point to as an indication that coaching is taking hold?

Read More