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Building OUR coaching culture

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

This is the fifth article in our series on Creating a Coaching Culture. This series of articles is primarily focused at HR and Development professionals wanting to transform the culture of their organisation and are seeing the potential of embedding coaching abilities within their organisation to achieve these goals. In this series, we’ll hear from professionals in the region and learn from their experience, struggles and successes.

The last article - Strategies for Building a Coaching Culture gave you insights from the HR professionals we have spoken to in the region on the different strategies and ideas that they are using, or plan to use, when building a coaching culture within their organisation. Now that you have some ideas, we are going to focus on the criteria your organisation uses to choose which of those ideas and strategies are best to move forwards with.

Later in this article we will be referring you to our “Coaching Culture Canvas” tool. You can download your copy here. Today we’re focussing on the section titled, “Prioritise.”

Building OUR Coaching Culture

Having realised the benefits that a coaching culture can have and the specific pains that you hope to address, what do you need to consider before you go ahead and implement coaching into your particular organisation?

What was clear in the advice we were given from that those who have already been successful in creating a coaching culture was that it can’t be taken lightly.  When you want to create change at a culture level, you need to be prepared to go through long-term change to integrate coaching into the very core of how you do things in the workplace.

It became clear throughout our interviews and the survey answers we received that building a culture of coaching into an organisation requires a long-term perspective towards a full-scale cultural transformation rather than being seen as the next HR initiative.

Amanda Williams is the Regional HR Manager for Rockwell Automation. She described to us how her organisation has managed the move to a coaching culture. “Every employee is encouraged to have a 70-20-10 development plan, 70 is learning on the job, 20 through coaching and mentoring and 10 through formal learning. Employees are encouraged to manage their own careers with many online resources. We are having more and more webinars on how to navigate your career with live examples. Coaching is also a major part of change management and change is constant in the company. How coaching is seen is shifting from being remedial to developmental.”

Amanda encourages those who want to build a coaching culture in their own organisation to address the “why’s ” to help employees understand the reasons for change and advises that building a pool of internal coaches who can champion coaching within the organisation is essential to making that change work.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Inevitably, the implementation of a coaching culture comes down to the scale of your organisation, it’s objectives and your budget. What works for a large, multinational organisation may not be a good fit for a small family-run business.

Elie Kreichaty, Learning and Development Manager for Holdal – Abou Adal Group in Lebanon and who previously worked in a Leadership Development role in Emirates Airlines, explained that organisations should “stay away from the ‘one size fits all’ approach, develop a strong coaching muscle and managers are to allocate time to coach their teams.”. He recognised that what works for his organisation may not be right for everyone and mentioned that there may be a need for external coaching to support these changes, where appropriate.

So just how do you make that first step forwards?

Choosing OUR Coaching Strategy

In his post last week, Matt mentioned three main modalities of coaching within organisations: external coaches, internal coach resources, and managers or leaders who use coaching skills. Each of these has it’s place in a coaching strategy and each has advantages and disadvantages, which I have briefly described below. What modalities your organisation chooses to use depends on what you want to achieve through coaching. As we mentioned earlier, developing a coaching culture takes time so it’s not necessary to do everything at once.

External Coaches are experts in the field of people development and have specialised training and skills in coaching which they practice on a professional level every day.  However, the cost is usually high and this is why external coaching is usually reserved for Senior Managers or specific projects. The other advantage of using an external coach is that they are not biased by the internal culture and politics of an organisation and this can often be useful for Senior Managers who want to speak with someone who is not connected to the organisation.

You will need to also develop an internal coaching capability, if it is your intention to embed coaching within your organisation. While this can take time to develop, not to mention the cost of training staff to the right level, having internal coache also has a great impact on staff retention and reduces costs, as they start to take over various coaching functions that were previously supplied externally.  Having coaches who are both accredited and internal to the company means that you can provide coaching to more people within the organisation at less cost.  However, often in order to save money, companies ask their internal coaches to coach alongside their current job rather than employing full-time internal coaches.  This means they can be distracted by their day-to-day jobs and may not always be available for coaching. They may also feel extra pressure as a result of the multiple roles they perform.

The other internal coaching resource a company has is it’s leaders.  Helping leaders switch from a telling culture to listening and asking powerful questions through coaching-style conversations has a great impact on communication within teams and retaining staff. At the same time, you need to understand the limitations of this method of coaching. Often, manager receive basic coaching skills training and then are expected to coach their teams.  They have many hats to wear with their team, of which coaching is only one.  In some ways, this goes against the very core of what coaching is about. Formal coaching is best when not done by your direct line manager, however, this is not always practical. Training your managers in coaching, however, does means that you can be sure that your coaching strategy is filtering down in to team meetings, performance appraisals and any one-to-one staff meetings.

Getting Started

While every company will have a different strategy to build their coaching culture, we did find some common elements in our research amongst those companies that had been successful in not just building a coaching culture , but also embedding that culture into the fabric of the organisation, regardless of size, budget or current culture.

One of the most important criteria for success that we noted, was to have a strong “why” for building a coaching culture that aligns with the overall strategy, mission, vision and objectives of an organisation. In the second article in this series, we asked you to write down some of the pains you are experiencing.  When your “why” links directly to overcoming your pains, then you gain more buy-in from those involved in building your company coaching strategy.

Establishing an infrastructure that allows for coaching to happen is the second key. This includes having a champion – which could be one person, and may be a full committee – to create and drive forward the coaching strategy. The champions needs to be supported and encouraged by their senior management, who need to have buy-in to the process and be fully involved.

Finally, building a community for your coaches to practice, develop and learn more about coaching helps to continue your journey towards truly embedding coaching into the way you do things. One company we talked to uses coaching barter arrangements with other companies so that both staff gain practice with other internally trained coaches from different organisations.

Your Coaching Cultures Canvas

I hope you have gained some clarity about which ideas you want to move forwards with to start the process of building a coaching culture. Take a moment to complete this week’s questions on your Coaching Culture Canvas. A final note from one of the people we interviewed was to “take the leap!” You might only be able to start small and that is the first step towards building a coaching culture.

Go to your Coaching Culture Canvas. In the Prioritise section, consider the following questions and note down your thoughts.

  • How will we discover the criteria for deciding the best way forward

  • Who are the key stakeholders?

  • How do they need to be involved?


In the next article we encourage you, now that you know the idea you want to take forward, to take the specific action steps towards a coaching culture that are the right fit your organisation. We'll explore what you can do both from a corporate perspective and individually.


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