I’m often asked through my work with Mindset how coaching can help transform organisational culture and inspire change to stick and since coaching really does underpin everything we do at Mindset, I am fortunate enough to see some remarkable results in organisations facing complex problems, external and internal scrutiny (in some cases) and senior leaders who are struggling and genuinely don’t know how to master tomorrow.
I feel like we have reached a point in the European coaching industry whereby leaders from a variety of industries understand the value of coaching but don’t yet appreciate how powerful its implementation can be in sustaining culture change. That’s not through ignorance but, in practical terms, there’s conflicting information about how to measure ROI in workplace coaching and often leaders don’t know which signs are evidence of change as a result of coaching. In an era, where technology really is transforming processes and making enormous cost savings and robots and AI are constantly making the headlines, it is easy to look to technology to solve challenges that previously would have been resolved by a conversation or a meeting with PEOPLE! Coaching may be overlooked because, quite simply put, people are complex, changing behaviours is challenging and why would we ever think it possible to change the behaviour of someone who has been with the organisation twenty years?
We worked with one organisation who had a global footprint and a culture which had become rotten through silos, misalignment and lack of trust in their senior leadership. This was having an impact on customer satisfaction and employee turnover and the associated costs were crippling. Despite these difficulties which were born of a former leadership team’s vision of how operations and corporate culture were meant to be, our approach was to start by equipping their managers with performance management coaching skills to complement the positives of the existing management style. We identified leadership behaviours which could be potential obstacles to the establishment of a coaching culture and therefore progress. One of which was that there was a strong belief that team meetings were not important. Simple as that! There were no scheduled business review meetings, let alone any other type meeting in which people convened and a perception that there was no time throughout the week to fit those in. If people needed guidance, their open-door policy meant that they could come and ask at any time. Front line teams didn’t know what the company values were because they had never been communicated to them. Their induction consisted of an outdated informal onboarding chat with HR and even then, the values weren’t communicated. To master tomorrow and really start to attack culture change, we must start to upskill and establish a solid management and leadership style and this is where the seeds of a coaching culture are sown, where values are communicated effectively and trust and transparency is built. How can we create alignment and dismantle a silo culture if our managers are not engaging with their teams properly from the onboarding stage? Just at the beginning of this week, we sat down to measure our impact with the program management team and have seen a 5% increase in one team’s KPIs as a result of implementing the coaching culture and training leaders to coach.
At the heart of a high performing culture in the workplace is a solid, open minded coaching mentality that strives to develop the potential of individuals and focus their abilities accordingly. It gives employees confidence to perform, not just against company KPIs (that will come as a result of their satisfaction!) but against personal growth-related goals. Employees are more confident, have higher self-esteem, are bolder in their decision making and more assertive in their actions.
Traditionally, coaching has been reserved for executives and senior leadership teams as a means to develop them further and improve business performance from the top, down. This certainly has its merits. But accessible coaching to all employees can only promote further business performance, be that, to the bottom line, in terms of employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction or compliance related activity.
The coachees with whom we currently work are focused on their own performance management and better still are expert in delivering and managing change in the workplace since they are already focused on their own personal improvement. I am also observing that these individuals, many of whom have been brought up in a coaching culture, are often more innovative in their approach, they dare to fail and understand that failing is part of the journey to success. Even better still their managers allow them to fail and coach them to success, either through external coaching services or a mixture of an external Coach and a manager that understands how to coach properly.
It is therefore not surprising to hear that companies who don’t have this culture often find themselves caught in a downward spiral starting with frustration and high employee turnover and ending in a costly expense of replacing employees which is much more costly to the business than coaching would ever be.
Studies by the International Coach Federation (ICF) report that 61% of employees working for organisations with strong coaching cultures are highly engaged, compared to 53% of employees coming from a non coaching background. Organisations with strong coaching cultures also report above-average revenue growth in relation to industry peers and last but not least, in a survey carried out by the ICF in 2017, 51% of organisations (US and Europe) now have a dedicated line item for coaching in their training budget as opposed to 31% in 2016.
All this to say that workplace coaching is effective and here to stay! It is why at Mindset, our interventions are built on coaching principles which strive to change mindset, behaviours and habits through coaching as only then will the transformation really stick.
Suzy Beech, Director of Coaching and ICF Approved Coach