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Creating a coaching culture in your organization

ICF Coaching Culture

The Indian Coaching market is growing and growing very fast. Every month new organizations pick up leadership or executive coaching as their mandate. The target segment is mostly top leadership or senior management with either issue based coaching or performance coaching for high potential leaders. But there is another segment that is opening up: creating a coaching culture in organizations. Which basically means that coaching works as the elemental force behind every employee interaction. There are few brave-hearts but they are there!! I am sure over the next 2-3 years more organizations will pick up creating coaching culture as their mandate.

So how do you create a coaching culture in your organization? One study states that a coaching culture is “built on organizational and leadership beliefs and practices that reflect coaching as a strategic business driver and critical talent management tool.” A coaching culture is visible in the behavior of people. It’s a way of looking at people and treating each other. When we describe a coaching culture, we’re describing a learning culture that is respectful and that values people’s potential and promotes innovation.

There are four pillars to look at while create a coaching culture:

  • Impact: What is the envisaged impact of the culture? How many employees, how many functions, geographies, etc. this will impact? What is the expected ROE (Return on Expectations) and ROI (Return on Investment) from these programs? How will go about calculating these metrics. Organizations across the globe use engagement scores, surveys, testimonials, productivity improvement and cost savings to arrive at such metrics. Your organization can pick up based on the impact it is looking to make.
  • Strategy: Define the execution strategy to achieve the impact you are looking for in alignment with the overall business strategy of the organization. Starting with identifying your program management team and what will be their R&Rs. Then how the implementation will be rolled out across the organization. Successful implementations across the globes have started with top management and then rolled downwards. There are three basic things that all program try to achieve:
    • Having external coaches for the top management and senior management
    • Certifying senior management and top management with coaching credentials in order for them to mentor leaders below them in coaching
    • Running coaching trainings of 30 – 60 hours for leaders below senior management and around 30 hours for all employees below this level. Along with ensuring regular coaching sessions across the organization and including this in the appraisal system.

    A marketing plan should also be created and should align to the organizational values and mission. The marketing plan also helps in spreading the “good word” around the programs and creates positivity throughout the organization.

  • Standards: It is very important what standards are being followed by the organization while creating the coaching culture. This ensures that the employees create trust in the programs being implemented and are able to work with their leader coaches in a safe environment. Every coaching engagement should have an agreement that the sponsor, coach and the employee signs. The trainings and certifications should align to a global coaching association known for its ethics around credentialing. Every step is taken to maintain employee-leader coach confidentiality. Standards in hiring external coaches should be created and adhered to.
  • Sustenance: Another important pillar is the ability of these programs to sustain through years. If there is no concrete plan around this then the programs will become a one-time affair and would peter off as many training programs do in organizations. Starting with full support from the top management by talking about this program in every communication and event. The identification of a program management team and a potentially a certified coach running it. The next step is create a budget plan which in the long run is able to justify against the ROE or ROI impact the program is creating. Some organizations charge the functions/units asking for coaching, some provide a central budget year on year and some even ask employees to pitch in!

I have tried to keep this short and sweet but there are more details to work on beyond these and these insights have come from having worked as a judge of the prestigious PRISM award of ICF (International Coach Federation). The insights have also come while helping a large organization design their coaching policy.

With an understanding of why coaching is so important, in terms of developing the company workforce as a whole and ensuring competitive advantage through its people, the organization can lay the foundation for a successful and long lasting coaching culture. As a result, the company can convey its commitment to the ongoing development of its employees, helping to retain top talent and attract the best candidates who want to work for a company dedicated to their professional advancement. The challenge arises not only in determining the types of coaching that will be most impactful, but also in attaining the internal buy-in and support for such a program.


The author is a Master Certified Coach with International Coach Federation and is passionate about creating coaching cultures in organizations. He is also a huge supporter of Ethics in Coaching and continuously works on increasing awareness around ethics in the industry by running regular webinars or in-house talks
Image Courtesy: ICF Research
Rajat Garg
Rajat Garg
Rajat is a Master Certified Coach (MCC) with over 18 years of industry experience and over 2500 hours of coaching experience, helping people and organizations attain maximum effectiveness. His background includes working with CXOs, senior managers, managers and board of directors of small private companies to multi-billion dollar publicly traded organizations.

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