A Coaching Culture Lifts Your Entire Organization

BY Tim Londergan
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Occasionally you come across a business practice that has a surprisingly greater impact than you had initially expected. Such as it is when you adopt a coaching culture. For example, the effort and expenditure put forth to develop this practice is rewarded with measurable business outcomes, say the researchers at Zenger Folkman. In their presentation entitled “How Developing a Coaching Culture Pays Off,” the authors state, “When it comes to improving productivity, employee engagement, retention, employee development, and supervisor performance, there is simply no better activity than having a leader that coaches and develops their direct reports on a regular basis.”

How to create a coaching culture

Using examples and research developed through work with their client companies, Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman put forth steps to guide you in establishing a coaching culture. Most importantly, senior leaders of the company must send a clear message stressing the role of coaching in effective managerial behavior. Second, you must create a process and establish expectations regarding the purpose and expected outcomes in definable terms. Skill training comes next with opportunities for practice and plenty of feedback. The fourth step assures that the coaching culture is carried through all levels of the enterprise. Finally, creating ways to track progress, such as questions posed to employees plus informal inquiries through regular interactions, will help you succeed.

The value-​added benefits of a coaching culture

A strong bond exists when leaders, managers and employees operate from the same assumptions, share common values and use the same language. Moreover, effective coaching will alter the tone and create a healthier atmosphere toward mutual respect and the spirit of cooperation. Zenger and Folkman realize that leaders need to see the business implications of coaching to motivate them to adopt the culture. Therefore, they suggest five positive outcomes resulting from effective coaching:

  1. Improved productivity
  2. Greater employee engagement
  3. Improved retention
  4. Employee development
  5. Perceived supervisor effectiveness

Effective coaching drives productivity

Businesses that adopt a coaching culture see gains throughout the enterprise. “The fundamental purpose of all learning and development is to improve productivity,” say the authors. Through their research, they identified several coachable behaviors that correlate to higher productivity throughout the organization:

  1. Prompt problem resolution. This is typically a challenging area for leaders. It's hard to find the time to address problems. But if you let your reps struggle for too long, they may end up losing a promising prospect. Great coaching means stepping up to resolve problems quickly.
  2. Emphasis on continual improvement. This practice encourages coaches to be creative in finding ways to advance the business process. When you implement changes to the standard workflow, great productivity will result. 
  3. Positive handling of performance issues. Not surprisingly, the research shows that most employees do not initiate frequent conversations to discuss issues or concerns on performance. It's up to you to be proactive and to suggest better ways for your team members to address their performance problems. Managers who make the effort to schedule regular sessions score higher in their own perceived performance.
  4. Developing your team. Clearly identifying a coaching session as such is important in developing your team members. For instance, labeling a session ensures the focus and agenda for the conversation. Your rep will understand you are trying to help them improve professionally and highly coachable team members will appreciate your effort.

Effective leaders know how to leverage best practices to positively impact their entire organization. Therefore, adopting an effective coaching culture can be one of the investments that provides returns at every level and for many years in the future. To learn more about adopting a coaching culture download our whitepaper, “Are They Coachable?” at SalesFuel​.com.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash