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How to build a coaching culture

As an experienced team leader, you should be looking to integrate an organised coaching culture into your business. With your employees’ learning as part of your overall business strategy, you should familiarise yourself with the stages of making this part of the everyday workplace environment.

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Coaching vs training vs mentoring

Coaching, training and mentoring are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they all have slightly different definitions. Coaching is more about enhancing a skill set or knowledge base, while training involves helping an employee to learn new skills.

Mentoring is similar to training. However, it is more long-term and applies specifically to an experienced member of staff transferring knowledge to a less experienced employee on a one-to-one basis.

Leadership and coaching culture

A strong coaching culture requires a strong leader. Therefore, the many ways in which you can create a good foundation for coaching culture originate in workplace leadership skills. Being a good leader involves having soft skills and the ability to change between different workplace leadership styles to suit the situation.

A coaching culture needs a collaborative rather than an autocratic or top-down leadership style, including strong listening and empathy skills. At the end of the day, your goal is to encourage growth in your teams and individual employees. It is also important to be able to tell the difference between managing and coaching. Managing involves a more top-down style of leadership, which involves delegating and giving employees direction. Therefore, coaching is a lot more time-intensive than management, as it involves working alongside your colleagues to find out which styles of learning and training best suit their personalities.

Creating opportunities for learning and training

You can involve your HR team in your coaching culture strategy by creating learning and training opportunities for employees, regardless of their skill level. To do so, it is useful to learn the difference between coaching and mentoring. Many businesses will mentor staff, but coaching requires you to bring in a trainer with expert knowledge in the skill sets of your employees. To get the most out of the learning and training opportunities provided by an expert coach, consider monitoring the performance of your employees who are following these modules.

Building a routine around employee coaching sessions

It is a good idea to not just have one-off coaching sessions, but to make sure that your employees engage with regular coaching. When your employees learn new ideas, rote and repetition will help them to stick. You can allocate a set time of the week or month, depending on your company’s budget, when your employees can build on their skill sets with an expert coach.

Integrating a coaching routine into your overall business strategy

Make sure that coaching is not ad hoc, but rather forms part of your overall strategy. You should try to think about whether the coaching is designed to serve a purpose and ensure that you have a clear reason for each coaching session. Consider coaching your employees to prepare for a campaign, or recapping skills learned following changes in the IT tools used at your company.

You may have coaching sessions for your employees’ soft skills as well. If a big presentation or seminar is coming up shortly, consider coaching your employees in public speaking skills. This way, your employees will be more confident and prepared for new situations, even leading to the ability to self-coach if they have to achieve similar tasks in the future.

Asking the right questions

Being a coach requires being a good listener to your employees, finding out what drives and inspires them. However, sometimes this requires a little coaxing. It is important to ask specific questions that help draw out the answers that are useful to you in helping to decide what works best for your employees’ personal and professional development. By asking the right kinds of questions, you can find out more about what aspects of the role your employees are confident with, what their perceived weaknesses are and where they feel strongest. If you ask inquisitive questions, you may discover surprising details about how your employees work and their feelings about their work. Once you have received useful answers from your employees, you can put these into practice with coaching sessions tailored to their specific needs.

Creating drop-in sessions

You can make drop-in coaching sessions an enjoyable experience for employees by offering free drinks or lunch options. Perhaps hold drop-in sessions in a fun, sociable space either in your office building or off-site for a change of scene. A coaching drop-in session is also a great way to encourage employees to network with each other and meet employees in your business’s other teams or departments.

Finding out what gets your employees talking

You might find that some of your employees are highly skilled and confident in their work but are more reluctant to share ideas in a group setting. However, you may be missing out on valuable group discussions if you do not work to include these kinds of employees. Therefore, it is a good idea to find out what helps your employees to open up during a group coaching session. Encouraging and inspiring your employees may help them to feel like contributing.

Teaching employees how to lead and coach themselves

One of the best skills that you can teach or enhance in an employee is the ability to coach themselves. This saves time and money, and you may find that employees are more engaged when teaching themselves rather than during a three-day course. However, to do this effectively, you need to give your employees the right tools for the job. Suggest self-help or educational literature to your employees so that they can discover new coaching techniques for themselves. It may be that different styles of self-coaching suit different employee personalities. Your initial coaching goals should be to identify an employee’s strengths and weaknesses and tap into their interests. It is a good idea to work with rather than against your employees during coaching sessions. Self-coaching is a great way for employees to reflect on what makes them excited to come to work for you every day. They may surprise you and themselves with what they learn about their personalities and how they fit into your work culture. You may be able to set up courses for your employees that will even enable them to teach themselves new skills. Consider setting up online or intranet training courses that they can complete themselves, whether it be at home or during an allotted time at work.

Creating accountability standards

Another crucial facet of coaching is helping to create accountability. This means making sure that your teams follow through on projects, such as by helping them to learn how to create and adhere to deadlines. Your less experienced employees may need to be guided through different business strategies, learning how to follow them with a mentor. Consider coaching your employees of all experience levels in time management skills so that they can get the job done both quickly and effectively. Use SMART goals to help your employees set objectives. SMART is a mnemonic for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time Frame

However, not all tasks suit SMART goals. This especially applies to long-term projects. Teach your employees to think outside the box. Find new ways to help them engage with long-term goals and professional commitments. Have regular meetings to make sure that everyone agrees on how to achieve the best possible results in a given time frame.

Building a coaching culture requires time management skills, strong leadership skills and the ability to listen to your employees. It is no easy task to begin with, but coaching your team will enable you to get the most out of your workforce. This has a knock-on effect on staff retention, in that you can help inspire feelings of real drive and purpose in your employees. With this in mind, it is worth considering getting experienced industry-specific coaches on board to help you plan and coordinate coaching sessions with your employees.

If you are already an experienced coach and/or leader in your field, then these tips will give you suggestions as to how to get the most out of your sessions. Further reading: 11 tips to effectively manage remote employees Team-building tips and activities to boost employee morale and engagement

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