Well-known author and Professor of Leadership, Peter Hawkins, in his book Creating a Coaching Culture, provides an aspirational definition of coaching culture. “A coaching culture exists in an organization when a coaching approach is a key aspect of how the leaders, managers, and staff engage and develop all their people and engage their stakeholders, in ways that create increased individual, team and organizational performance and shared value for all stakeholders.” To us, that definition feels like capturing the full potential value of coaching at an organizational level.
A coaching culture works on an individual level by recognizing people as complex humans with a variety of hopes, dreams, struggles, and successes. As employees, people bring their talents, energy, ideas and passion to our organizations. Our job as leaders is to create a work environment that can fully draw out the best in every person to create maximum satisfaction and engagement for the employee while creating exceptional value for the organization and its customers.
1. Employee Engagement
Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report found that engaged employees are more likely to stay with their organization and feel a stronger bond to their organization’s mission and purpose. Another report found that about 70 percent of companies are reporting talent shortages and 81 percent of businesses said turnover is a costly problem. With the struggle to acquire and keep talent so high, the cost of failing to engage workers becomes clear. Employee engagement also affects a host of business goals, including:
- Productivity. Companies with high levels of engagement are 21 percent more profitable. What’s more, engaged employees are up to 17 percent more productive than their disengaged peers.
- Absenteeism. A Gallup study found that workforces comprised of highly engaged workers enjoyed 41 percent lower rates of absenteeism.
- Safety. Workplaces with highly engaged employees experience 70 percent fewer safety incidents.
- Quality. People who are engaged tend to make fewer mistakes and are more likely to deliver high-quality products and services. One study found that highly engaged workforces saw 40 percent fewer quality defects.
So, how can organizations get these amazing benefits of an engaged workforce? According to recent research from the International Coaching Federation, 60 percent of employees working in an organization where they experience a coaching culture rated themselves as highly engaged. As stated above in Hawkins’ definition, a culture of coaching is one where workers engage with one another using a coaching approach in discussions, problem solving, conflict and more. By embracing this approach, employees find lots of opportunities to develop new skills and even use this new way of thinking to solve future challenges. In addition to improving self-awareness and openness to feedback, they learn how to succeed in different roles, produce results that are valued by their managers and the organization and have the chance to pursue personal career goals, not just organizational objectives. In other words, people tend to work harder, pay closer attention to the details and genuinely care about bringing positive results for their employers when they feel like those efforts are appreciated and respected. A coaching culture becomes the way work gets done in an organization. Executed well, a true coaching culture is never even discussed as a coaching culture; it is merely THE culture of the organization.
2. Stronger Relationships
The idea of bad managers who micromanage projects, aren’t responsive to requests and questions, enjoy special privileges and take credit for all the good work while avoiding responsibility for missteps might be ripe for comedians, but they are misery for workers and for the bottom line of any organization. Implementing a culture of coaching can radically improve critical relationships within the organization to bolster the strength of your teams while creating more positive results across the board. Failure to develop these relationships can have drastic consequences:
- According to one survey, 75 percent of workers said their boss was the worst and most stressful aspect of their job.
- In another survey, 65 percent of employees said they’d prefer a new boss rather than a raise in pay.
- Gallup found that half of all employees have left a job because of a bad manager and that 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement across teams in the workplace was directly tied to the managers of the teams.
When managers are given the tools to interact with their people as coaches rather than harsh taskmasters, their direct reports will begin to feel as if their ideas and efforts matter and that their individual well-being is prioritized along with that of the company and its customers. Workers will be encouraged and empowered to use their strengths, talents, and skills daily, and Gallup found that workers in these conditions are six times more likely to be engaged. And we already know the benefits of an engaged workforce.
Transforming management styles to embrace the concepts of coaching isn’t always going to be easy, and only 36 percent of companies are offering coaching-specific training to new leaders. However, becoming part of that percentile has clear benefits, along with an opportunity to edge out the 64 percent of companies that are not teaching their managers to utilize a coaching approach.
3. Increased Business Performance
There are a few straight lines that can be drawn directly to an organization’s bottom line. Implementing a coaching culture improves working conditions for employees in all the categories that matter to them. By doing so, companies can enjoy the benefits that come with a happy, satisfied, engaged, energized and empowered crew, including:
- Higher Sales. One result of a productive workforce delivering high-quality products and services is better sales. In fact, organizations with strong levels of engagement enjoy a sales increase of 20 percent.
- More Profits. Highly engaged workers produce 21 percent greater profits than those that are not.
- Higher Shareholder Returns. One expert defines the link between engaged employees and higher stock prices as the Engagement-Profit Chain, and this model shows that investing in an engaged workforce can deliver stock prices that are up to five times higher.
Plus, when employees are given ample opportunity for growth and development, and when they are empowered to make decisions and solve problems on their own, the natural result is a robust leadership pipeline, something that 77 percent of organizations are struggling to create.
People are the most valuable resource in any company. Without people, very few business goals could be achieved. Employees have the power to make or break the success of a business. When they are treated like the talented, complex human resources that they are, their employers will enjoy everything from a more positive and inclusive workplace to stronger profits year over year.