Champion a coaching culture in your organisation

Consider this advice when implementing a coaching culture.

The International Association of Coaching (IAC) defines coaching as a transformative process for personal and professional awareness, discovery and growth. Do organisations and coaches perceive coaching the same way or are there different interpretations and practices?

I personally experienced the need of coaching within an organisation because of a disconnected business strategy with coaching plans, coupled with a wrong mindset on the coaching programme, which is more a coach driven approach and a lack of a big picture on coaching. On the other hand, certain organisations believe that coaching plans and culture are aligned and embedded into business planning where there is a well-defined and long-term coaching plan and strategy and data and assessment driven coaching approach as part of an established solid coaching structure with a dashboard of metrics. On top of that, there are scenarios where companies focus too much on KPIs and they tend to neglect people and talents

Why coaching and not mentoring?

I have used mentoring and paired Gen Y and Baby Boomers for a New Employee Mentoring Programme also known as a ‘Buddy System’, which has been successful. In my previous organisations, coaching was more significant than mentoring which has been top driven and been significantly embedded in the coaching practices and core values of the organisation. Coaching aims to focus on specific needs with an agreed duration and target, and a coach does not have to be a subject matter expert. This is debatable, though.

Other questions are: when do we integrate coaching in business and is it a pull factor or a push factor? What difference does it make to the business? Therefore, in which situation can coaching help to make an organisation successful?

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Benefits of coaching for organisation and internal coaches and coachees?

Coaching enhances employer branding, which is the key in business nowadays, especially in a person’s career as coaching ties up with career progression. It works by word of mouth that companies are working on career coaching for employees as part of an employee retention plan.

Different businesses take up coaching for various reasons. For example, it can always be a great platform to attract and retain talent in the organisation if this is part of the organisation’s belief and culture.

I have seen organisations embedding coaching with reward and recognition programmes to motivate and engage employees and this is seen as a solid selling point for the organisation. It is important to create a win-win situation for all parties – the organisation, the coach and the coachee. Can we say coaching isn’t a stand-alone skill but then part of leadership competencies? Are we incorporating this into leadership competencies with standard coaching practices and standards? One would agree that having these skills elevates coaches to greater heights. From a coachee point of view, do employees get a chance to experience awareness, discovery and achieve both personal and professional goals or is it merely an instruction or direction given by the coach?

Challenges in embedding coaching culture

The first barrier to break is implementing strategically with a top down approach where the management team should be driving this effort and leading by example. However, this seems to be a big challenge to get the senior management to walk the talk and become heavily engaged in coaching efforts. Is the management team ready to invest time and effort in embedding the coaching culture?

Pairing the coach and coachee is also a challenge and gaining acceptance of coach by the coachee is debatable too. Breaking the ice and establishing a professional bond is another area to consider in coach and coachee pairing. The worst-case scenario is the cancellation of the coaching session due to lack of a good relationship.

The organisation may prefer having internal or external coaches, or both. The advantage of an internal coach is that they will know the employee. The advantage of an external coach is the perception of being an expert and neutral party and being able to obtain greater buy-in.

Measuring coaching success

How can we strategically implement a coaching culture in the organisation and measure the success of it? Here are some tips to measure the success of it. To start with, define what coaching success looks like followed by what needs to be measured, such as performance issues and engagement metrics. On the other hand, success may be deemed as aligning coaching efforts and measurement to specific business goals and KPIs.

Prakash Santhanam is the President for International Association of Coaching (IAC) Malaysia Chapter. A highly passionate Meta NLP, CIPD, DDI, DiSC, Hogan and Harrison certified Talent Management/HR professional with global experience (Asia Pacific and Africa) combined with proven international track record in 14 countries. A resourceful strategic talent partner in reshaping organisations leading towards global excellence in executive coaching, talent attraction, selection, development and retention.

This article appeared in the October 2018 issue of HR Future magazine.

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