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Creating a coaching culture from within

Most organisations with strong coaching cultures use a hybrid method utilising external and internal coaches

Organisational coaching is thriving around the world, and its role is changing as employers seek to cultivate leaders, help employees find work and life balance, and retain top talent with more nontraditional perks.

An International Coach Federation’s (ICF) research project, conducted in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers, recently provided an updated picture of the coaching profession worldwide. It found that approximately 57,100 individuals self-identify as professional coaches, up from approximately 47,500 four years ago.

So there is great opportunity for HR and talent development professionals to integrate coaching into their organisations.

A snapshot of coaching in the UK

Professional coach practitioners in the UK cited leadership coaching (29%), executive coaching (26%), and business/organisations coaching (16%) as their primary specialties.

Nine per cent of respondents identified as a manager or leader using coaching skills. While this is a small percentage of UK respondents it represents an emerging trend globally, with 16.2% worldwide self-identifying as such.

Implementing coaching from within

Most organisations with strong coaching cultures use a hybrid methodology. They utilise external and internal coaches and train managers and leaders. In other words, they are looking to their own employees. The use of coaching skills in the workplace is increasingly the norm for managers and leaders who can positively affect their workforce by using skills they have learned from various coaching sessions.

One of the key benefits to creating a coaching culture from within is a defined process for talent and leadership development, and helping employees meet personal career goals. For example, at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) coaching had strong support from leaders within the organisation, with more than 60% of the corporate executive team using coaches on a regular basis.

Prior to 2010 GSK’s use of coaching was reactive, with skyrocketing costs as well as dispersed and limited accountability. Leaders at the organisation realised they needed to make a significant change to attract, develop and retain talent with the confidence and skills to challenge the status quo.

One key to success was the creation of GSK’s Coaching Centre of Excellence (CoE). This structure allows GSK to standardise and enable coaching throughout the organisation, making coaching available to their employees around the globe. The CoE improves access to coaching, ensures quality and efficiency, and creatively contains costs.

The structure also includes a Job Plus Coaches (JPC) programme, where employees volunteer as coaches. All JPCs go through a rigorous training process and are assessed by trainers in the classroom, by peers through peer coaching, through professional quarterly supervision, and through coaching observations. Thanks to these programmes GSK has trained 16,000 of its managers and leaders to use coaching skills.

Creating a coaching culture

Thanks to the enthusiastic support of GSK’s leadership and open discussion of coaching’s benefits, GSK employees see coaching as a benefit that allows them to become personally and professionally successful, and not as remedial correction.

As with any new initiative, HR and talent development need to take the time to reflect on their organisation’s business objectives. But once they have adopting coaching modalities offers employees and leadership alike a greater sense of purpose, productivity and engagement.

Magdalena Mook is CEO and executive director of the International Coach Federation