3 Surefire Ways to Sabotage Your Coaching Culture

A thriving coaching culture supports the development of strong leaders and a more engaged workforce. However, using coaching only as a remedial solution or limiting it to specific management levels can undermine your efforts. In fact, it can cause employees and leaders to have a negative reaction to coaching.

Conversely, when you create an environment where more leaders experience coaching and see its impact, you build a coaching culture. The secret to your success is scale. Without scale, you can’t maximize coaching’s effect on your culture.

Characteristics of a Coaching Culture

When you’ve developed a coaching culture, senior leaders, managers, and employees value coaching and rely on it for continuous professional development. Coaching is not an occasional event or a one-off, but a well-established component of the organization’s leadership development program.

Organizations with a coaching culture also have the following attributes:

  • Leaders at many levels receive coaching for performance enhancement and skill building.
  • Managers are equipped to coach the people on their team and practice it regularly.
  • The organization relies on an external, trusted coaching provider to support organizational coaching needs or supplement internal coaching resources.
  • Coaching is frequently offered as a proactive solution rather than just a tool to address a leader’s known skill gaps.

Three Ways Companies Undermine the Development of a Coaching Culture

Though a coaching culture offers many benefits, including higher employee engagement and revenue, many companies still have more work to do in cultivating one. A study conducted by the Human Capital Institute (HCI) and International Coach Federation (ICF) found that while most organizations utilized coaching for employee development, only 11% possessed all the characteristics of a strong coaching culture.

Here are three actions organizations take that hinder the development of a coaching culture (and what you can do to avoid them):

1. Using coaching for remedial purposes only

Recommending coaching only when you want to correct leadership deficiencies creates more problems than it solves. Not only does it give coaching a negative connotation, it also creates the following problems:

  • Employees view coaching as a punishment for underperformance rather than a benefit that supports their growth and development.
  • Coaching is deployed less frequently, which limits opportunities for it to become rooted in your existing culture.
  • Coaching relationships start at a deficit. Instead of focusing on transformational growth, the coach and coachee must first address problem areas.

To build a culture where employees and managers see coaching as additive to their development rather than punitive, coaching must be embraced as a tool for preventing leadership problems and not just remediating them. As employees begin to see the benefits of coaching and its use in a variety of scenarios, they will begin to view it more as a privilege and an investment in their growth.

2. Relying solely on in-house coaches

In-house coaches are valuable because they understand internal policies and leverage their familiarity with company practices to help those they coach. However, using only in-house coaches has definite drawbacks. First, in-house coaches may be seen as less objective than coaches hired from the outside. Second, employees may not fully trust in-house coaches and worry that conversations won’t be kept confidential.

Instead of limiting coaching to internal practitioners, it’s ideal to rely on third-party coaches. They offer a higher level of confidentiality that helps coachees feel more at ease and willing to open up about the challenges they face. Moreover, since third-party coaches are detached from internal politics, their guidance may be more objective. Over time, these coaches will learn about your company culture and social norms.

3. Providing coaching to senior leaders only

Limiting coaching to senior leaders sends a message that the organization isn’t interested in developing and investing in all of its leaders. Additionally, employees suffer the consequences when frontline and middle managers don’t receive coaching and other forms of leadership development. Without coaching, managers may be more likely to make leadership mistakes that adversely affect the employee experience.

To really shape your culture, coaching must touch enough people in the organization—and more than just senior leaders. By scaling coaching to reach all leadership levels, including frontline managers, you can elevate leadership effectiveness throughout the organization and invest in the growth of a larger population of leaders.

How to Stretch Your Budget to Deliver Coaching at Scale

As we said above, to create a true coaching culture, coaching has to be experienced broadly throughout the leadership ranks. Coaching isn’t just for executives. Coaching can build the leadership competency of senior leaders, frontline managers, and those preparing to move into leadership roles. But can organizations afford that much coaching?

Microcoaching solutions – programs of fewer sessions devoted to just one or a few focused topics – is the affordable way to scale coaching. With microcoaching, you can build on your existing coaching and leadership development programs while reaching enough leaders to make an impact on your culture.

These shorter coaching engagements (over one to two months) can help leaders at all levels master new leadership skills and become an effective manager as coach. IMPACT Group offers microcoaching solutions that are affordable, scalable, and tailored to meet your needs. If you’re ready to see how microcoaching can enhance your company culture, contact us for a conversation.