Creating a Coaching Culture

Background

An agency within a Central Government had a culture of autocratic management.  Coaching was viewed as a specific management tool only to be used in specific development situations.  It was not seen as a tool to be used quickly in order to create an effective and efficient way of managing teams and stakeholders.  Nor was it embedded into any of the Agency’s people processes and systems.

Furthermore, the Agency went through a merge and acquisition within a Central Government Department which transformed the structures of the organisation and required several processes and systems to be reviewed for the future development of the Agency.

Issues

  • High retention rates were present within management grades
  • Some organisational processes and systems were no longer “fit for purpose”
  • The organisation was not prepared for the future level of work with the current staff levels under the existing management culture
  • The organisation was growing rapidly and needed to be able to up-skill and develop staff quickly
  • The organisation was required to create a new product that required a new way of working internally and externally

Solution

A new function was created in the Human Resources department of the Agency that focussed on leadership and management development.  One of the primary objectives of the function was to create a coaching culture in order to meet the need demands on the business and enable managers to develop their people more effectively.

A coaching programme was designed with the aim of creating a coaching culture within the Agency in 3 years.  Clear objectives and deliverables were identified and agreement was reached with Senior Mangers and Board.

The programme  was designed to target different levels of skill and capability based on the different requirements in the business.  First an educational campaign was launched into elements of coaching.  Knowledge was leveraged based on previous leadership programmes, in which all managers across the entire organisation participated

Secondly, a short workshop session was developed to give managers an opportunity to practice their coaching skills in a safe environment recognising the coaching can be used to achieve quick wins, and not have to just be 1 hour development sessions.  Digital formats were also used creating a coaching forum open to all managers to share experiences and gain insights from peers and colleagues on coaching.  A leadership blog was also established to share success stories across the organisation.  Thirdly  a accredited coaching programme was implemented and linked to the International Coaching Federation.

This enabled the organisation to develop an internal network of qualified coaches to be used for key organisational systems and processes, i.e. outplacement, talent management and performance management.  The qualified coaches volunteered to participate but had to go through a full assessment that required the full commitment of their managers and Directors, as time out from their normal working responsibilities would be necessary to implement.   Fourth, networks were created within the agency along with a cross-department and access to cross-government  to enable managers and  trained coaches to share learning and experiences and raise their profiles.

Impact

  • Investors in People (IiP) evaluated the coaching culture was in existence and thriving across the entire organisation ahead of schedule, within 18 months.
  • 46 staff members and managers qualified through the accreditation programme within 2 years
  • Staff involved in Outplacement felt more prepared to deal with the personal and professional changes
  • Talent was seen as being more thoroughly developed within the organisation and were exposed to other areas of Government
  • Performance management conflicts were reduced
  • The coaching culture is seen by the Agency as a success and still exists