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A coaching culture is key to firmwide knowledge sharing

Benefits include cost savings, more motivated teams and fewer siloes

19 May 2015

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

Firms should move away from formal coaching sessions and instead embed coaching conversations into their culture.

That's according to Jane Saunders, coach network manager at the BBC and Claire Molin, who leads Visa Europe's coaching strategy.

They believe that daily manager-employee and peer-to-peer coaching conversations can increase staff engagement and improve learning and development.

"The benefits of coaching to organisations include significant cost savings," said Molin, speaking at the CIPD's Learning and Development Show.

"People with coaching skills are also better at dealing with changes within their own organisation," she said. "And, coaching skills can be used for negotiating with others."

Another benefit of coaching is that it can help people to come up with better solutions for clients and in their day-to-day work.

"The benefits of coaching to individuals is that it gives them confidence in their own thoughts, helps them to have a problem-solving and creative approach, and helps them to come up with their own ideas," commented Saunders.

"The key is to give them space, time and prodding to help them to be independent and confident to do their daily job."

Coaching can also help firms to develop highly motivated teams and to break down siloes.

"Managers can then step back from firefighting day-to-day and have more time to spend on strategy and team leadership," said Saunders.

"Emotional intelligence - understanding yourself and others - is very important. We teach effective questioning and listening skills, as it helps people to use the feedback they receive, to interpret it and apply it."

Visa has adopted the 70:20:10 model for organisational learning and development. In this model, 70 per cent of learning takes place on the job, 20 per cent comes from interactions with others and 10 per cent comes from events, training and reading.

"The majority of learning is work based and, if colleagues are coaching each other, it creates cost savings for the business," commented Molin.

Research has found that a coaching culture increases employee engagement throughout an organisation, she said.

"Coaching increases organisational knowledge retention and breaks down siloes. People are asking each other questions and supporting each other," said Molin.

"Developing a coaching style in managers can future-proof your firm for the next generation."

Embedding a coaching culture

Your organisation's culture will determine the approach that will best fit when looking to embed coaching into daily interactions.

The two main ones are:

  1. programme-led formal coaching (which is hierarchical and vertical); and

  2. skills-led through managers (which is horizontal).

"If your organisation is hierarchical and matrixed, you can socialise coaching by having programmes that are highly structured with high controls," said Molin.

"If your firm is more team-focused and entrepreneurial, a skills-based and blended approach would work better."

The key to embedding coaching into your firm's culture is to ensure it is not seen as a remedial exercise or a performance failure.

The following issues should be considered when developing your coaching strategy, she said:

  • What is your organisation's culture? Are there differences in culture at your local office, nationally or internationally?

  • Are coaching conversations going to be difficult? If all training is delivered formally, it will be difficult to normalise those conversations.

  • Which behaviours are you trying to change?

  • What is your organisation's experience of coaching so far?

  • Do you have any potential champions, advocates or role models, such as people who are trained or natural coaches?

  • Who will be the big detractors? Do you have people who view managing their team as a lower priority to doing their day job?

  • How will you support your people to receive and provide coaching? Will external support be accepted by them?

  • How will you measure success?

"You need to be clear on the potential benefits for the organisation, for managers and for coachees and to whom you need to sell them," said Saunders.

"Coach senior people so that they can experience it for themselves and can become champions," she suggested.

"Link it to your leadership or talent development programme so that it becomes embedded in the organisation. Some people are natural coaches and already help each other to think of their own solutions; others need training to develop those skills."

Ark Group, which publishes Managing Partner, has a 'Coaching for Lawyers' interactive half-day masterclass event on 25 June 2015. Further details, including how to book your place, can be found here.

 

 

 

 

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Knowledge management HR