So, You Want to Build a Coaching Culture - Now What?

March 13, 2017 | Lexy Thompson & Dr. Christina Barss | HCI
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How do you know if it is the right move?
Coaching is a powerful tool organizations may leverage to create the capacity for appreciative and supportive interaction that directly leads to the achievement of business results. Is coaching a way to achieve strategic objectives in the workplace, a trend, or a sustainable business strategy?

Here are some key questions that may help you flush out if a coaching culture will be a sustainable business strategy in your organization:

What problem are you aiming a coaching environment at?
Organizations must understand the problem clearly before deciding if a coaching culture is a potential solution, and if so, how to build the framework to directly address the problem.

Does top leadership buy in to this approach for a period of 3 – 5 years?
If leadership rejects a possible solution without enough knowledge of the long road ahead, do the leaders leverage coaching for themselves? Do you have any executives that already model a coaching approach to the business and emerging talent? That is a crucial key to knowing if they have the right tolerance for the journey.

Do you have the internal talent to help align a coaching strategy to the business objectives in a measurable and sustainable way?
Having programs in place that foster succession, workforce development and high potentials’ performance are good signals that you have a proper foundation for a thriving coaching culture. Also, look for key organizational stakeholders who place value on coaching who may help accelerate adoption of a coaching culture.

Readiness is on the radar!
Once leaders are comfortable with their organizations’ readiness to transition into a coaching culture, defining the culture within the context of your organization will help pull internal and external resources to help develop the framework needed to move forward.

Four parts of a successful coaching culture

1. Coaching philosophy - Introducing coaching competencies is a very powerful strategy to create a positive work environment that’s committed to becoming a learning organization. Your philosophy would inform the preferred model inclusive of engagement protocol, guidelines of behavior, and compelling activities that reinforce the mission, vision, and values of your organization. Choose the coaching model that best aligns with your organization’s mission and values.

2. Coaching strategy - A comprehensive coaching strategy is necessary to ensure results beyond activity metrics of skills training, and to drive measurable impact in employee engagement and retention. Define your strategy by asking:

  • What are your current and future needs?
  • How will you engage coaches?
  • How will you link the coaching to your employee’s development activities?
  • Is coaching part of a larger talent management strategy?

3. Coaching infrastructure - After determining your coaching philosophy and strategy, attaining the internal buy in and support is imperative. Your infrastructure brings all the logistical components together to make certain a sustainable integrated program. A business culture of coaching requires effort and input from all levels:

  • Executive – organizational champion
  • Operations senior management – steering committee
  • Front line – community of practice

Leaders should be prepared to adjust work as they enlist stakeholders and fine tune the strategy.

4. Coaching metrics - What gets measured gets done! Data drives the adoption and sustainment of the coaching culture. Determining key metrics will help connect front line success with senior leadership for continued support.

Three building blocks of strong coaching cultures

1. Conduct an assessment to better understand how coaching may help your organization meet strategic goals.

2. Gather stakeholders to draft a multiphase plan to provide opportunities for all employees to develop skills and reach professional goals. 

3. Ensure your measurement of success ranges from individual metrics to organizational bottom line metrics.


“In the future, people who are not coaches will not be promoted. Managers who are coaches will be the norm.” – Jack Welch, former Chairman & CEO of General Electric