Is your organisation “coaching ready”?
When talking about changing direction of an organisation, there seem to be lots of nautical metaphors! We hear about turning round the tanker. Or about changing direction by 1 degree producing a different outcome. Or about getting them to walk the gangplank. Actually, not the last one – I was just watching a pirate film with the kids.
What seems to be true is that there can be a deliberate change in culture in any organisation. It doesn’t have to just happen organically. And in order to have coaching liked, appreciated and accepted, having a good look at the culture of an organisation is a helpful thing to do.
Organisation culture – some definitions
When I hear definitions about culture in organisations, I am always struck by the disparity in them. Some say things in a just as it is way – “culture is the way things are done around here.” Others say it in a positive, aspirational way – “a positive culture affords everyone respect whilst expecting quality work every day”. And yet others say it in a provocative, eye opening way – “culture is the worst behaviour that is accepted or overlooked”
Whichever definition we focus on, it is clear that some types of culture are less suitable for coaching than others.
What do we mean by coaching ready for an organisation?
At the heart of the coaching relationship is privacy. Anyone who is coached needs to have full confidence that they are in a safe, private environment. It’s not just about being overlooked or overheard – no coaching in open plan offices, thanks! It is also about knowing that the coach will keep what you say confidential (apart from in safeguarding and risk cases). And about knowing that the coach won’t evaluate the coachee, and form a negative view about them.
If coach and coachee can enter a room and have a coaching session, and both of them trust the process, each other, and the organisation, this is a good place to be.
And to achieve this, some pre-work needs to be done within the organisation, before launching into setting up coaching.
What are the key elements to a coaching ready organisation?
When you read the last paragraph, what were the words that came up for you? For me, they are:
And all these things, on a clear and consistent basis, by everyone, all of the time! Easier to write than to do, perhaps. Let’s have a couple of case studies, to illustrate the point.
Case study – a coaching ready organisation
Team member speaks to their manager. “I’m worried that I don’t have the skills to do part of my job, and that my performance is dipping”. The manager is pleased that their team member has shared. There is no evaluation or judgement by the manager. She says “what do you need?” and a plan of action is drawn up. It may involve coaching, training, mentoring or other support. The manager is available to continue supporting her team member. But she doesn’t hold this dip in performance against them. In fact, the opposite. The team member continues to be seen as a valuable contributor, and continues to receive the same opportunities as the rest of the team
Case study – a coaching “unready” organisation
Coaching has been introduced, with managers able to refer team members to a specialist performance coach. The manager has been told that he can send any team members. He only sends underperformers. The manager is required to complete an evaluation of the team member’s strengths and weaknesses, and to send it in private to the coach. The coach then coaches the team member, to get them to improve. They don’t disclose the manager’s report, but use it as a basis of their “coaching”.
The team member may or may not improve. In either case, their HR file is updated and the experience has a negative impact on promotion and other opportunities.
Both of these examples are based on true experiences by people we have worked with. And both are possible within organisations. Clearly, the second example is one that needs significant resolving before embarking on any sort of coaching programme.
The examples and explanation here are to help you consider how best to start preparing your organisation to be ready for coaching. We have a coaching ready checklist available to download here. Have a snapshot of how your own organisation is doing, and whether you, and your team think you are coaching ready.
And good luck with it – any investment in this area may have huge benefits, whether or not you eventually introduce coaching. A good place to work is a good place to work!
Happy coaching and happy organisational change.