I thank the late Chris Coffey, Stakeholder Centered Coaching (SCC) cofounder, for the idea of using SCC concepts and principles to create an organization-wide coaching culture. In a two-part series for the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), I covered Chris’s experience with Phillips 66.
The company hired Chris to coach the general manager of a marketing division who was perceived as abrasive and intimidating. Using the SCC methodology, Chris’s engagement was hugely successful. Not only did the GM’s behavior change dramatically, but his direct reports expressed a desire for a similar coaching experience to improve their own leadership effectiveness.
Chris then worked with the GM to develop a plan by which other managers and supervisors in his 205-person division received coaching. Although these weren’t full-blown SCC engagements, they incorporated several important SCC principles and concepts. Surveys were conducted to assess program effectiveness. Over a year later, results showed dramatic division-wide improvement in employee satisfaction with management. You can read more about Chris’s experience here and here.
Inspired by Chris’s experience, SCC has since created a program designed to enable SCC coaches to engage with organizations on a broader basis than solely one-on-one engagements.
Key elements of a coaching culture initiative
Commitment from the top. It’s essential that senior leadership talk the talk and walk the talk.
Clarity of the goal. A coaching culture needs to be defined behaviorally. Here are two examples from companies with which I’m currently working. Both define a coach-leader.
- Acts more like a coach and mentor than a traditional command & control “boss.”
- Combines humility, courage, and discipline.
- Leads by listening vs. telling.
- When it comes to job expectations, responsibility, and accountability, treats people fairly and consistently.
- Demonstrates genuine interest in employees’ ideas, contributions, growth, and development.
- Ensures that everyone on the team shares the same goals and empowers others to use their abilities to best achieve goals;
- Actively listens to employees in order to engage and learn from them;
- Generously shares credit and recognition and accepts responsibility when things go wrong; and
- Doesn’t hesitate to confront others yet does so with a solution oriented vs. blame-oriented mindset.
Systems alignment. To sustain a coaching culture, company policies, practices and procedures must be evaluated. Do they support the desired behaviors, or do they undermine them? Economic incentives, benefits, performance reviews, disciplinary procedures and other HR-related policies and practices should be evaluated and modified as needed.
Ongoing progress assessment. As Chris did with Phillips 66, periodic progress measurements should be made. I’ve found useful a modified version of the SCC Mini Survey. The Mini Survey provides stakeholders with a confidential opportunity to assess the leader’s progress on his/her goal and to offer practical suggestions for going forward (known as “feedforward.”) A broader scale survey essentially asks the same question, only it’s about how overall leadership has done regarding its coaching culture goal and what further action will be helpful.
Celebrate Successes. In my experience, organization change initiatives often lose momentum because people don’t know about the positive results that have been obtained. Therefore, I encourage clients to proactively share success stories. These stories encourage others to participate and help overcome resistance.
Before his passing, Chris and I discussed collaborating on an organization-wide coaching culture initiative. He would take the lead laboring oar on the coaching component while I took the lead laboring oar on systems alignment. Although such a project had not yet happened, in spirit, he continues to be part of what I do. Rest in peace, my friend. May your memory be a blessing.
PS: Here’s a related article on creating a coaching culture.