The VUCA World
VUCA stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. It describes the situation of constant, unpredictable change that is now the norm in many industries and areas of the business world.
With constantly changing customer demands, ever-increasing competition, and a new generation of workers, it has never been more important for larger organisations to create an environment where associates feel empowered to take action, take risks, and cooperate with others to accomplish company objectives.
As organisations continuously ask resources to do more with less, the workforce is more and more required to have the ability to shift and respond to changes in the business environment with corresponding actions that are focused, quick, and agile. Being agile is about being able to understand, adapt, and change quickly in an ever-evolving environment.
Organisations continuously require more adaptable, innovative, and future-minded individuals to withstand uncertain times and the existence of a strong coaching culture can equip and empower the workforce to be just that.
What is a coaching culture?
A coaching culture is a combination of two powerful organisational tools: coaching and culture.
Coaching is the process of helping individuals or groups identify their strengths and areas for improvement to achieve their goals. It is, in essence, the process of understanding what motivates people and it follows a four-step process – assessment,
goal setting, action planning, and implementation.
Culture represents a cascading framework where leaders equipped with key mindsets, model desired behaviours, and drive organisational success.
What might be less obvious is that both coaching and culture together, deliver tangible results to the organisation and the individual in the short term. In the longer-term, coaching and culture position the organization to be more agile and competitive in pursuit of new opportunities.
Before going into the ins and outs of coaching, below is an image presenting the benefits to company executives following coaching and the results of various surveys from executives, managers, and employees in larger companies.
The Stats Don’t Lie
Only about two in 10 managers intuitively understand how to engage employees, develop their strengths, set clear expectations, and coach their direct reports. 
94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it simply invested in helping them learn. 
80% of people who have received coaching report positive impacts in areas such as work performance, communication skills, productivity, well-being, and business management strategies. 
65% of employees in a strong coaching culture report that they are “highly engaged.” 
In a study of 100 executives who received coaching, companies experienced the following benefits 
An estimated 80-90% of management and leadership jobs require the ability to coach. 
70% of employees in the United States admit that they aren’t working to their full potential, illustrating a need for more performance coaching. 
The Reality of Coaching
Though the benefits of coaching can be viewed on charts and in statistics based on studies and feedback questionnaires, they don’t tell the real story of what can be involved in unlocking an individual/group’s potential.
Unless a large organisation is deploying a workforce that is 100% artificial intelligence, there will be people involved. Real people with real, human concerns and feelings.
Coaching is based on the science of human motivation and behaviour. This science tells us that people are motivated by differing factors, including the need for achievement, affiliation, power, and autonomy.
The goal can be put simply but is not always simply achieved: that is: to assist individuals/teams with greater access to their innate abilities. The approach can be summarized in a simple formula.
Performance = Potential – Interference
“Potential” includes all of our capabilities—fulfilled or unfulfilled—as well as our ability to learn.
“Interference” represents the ways that we undermine the fulfillment of our own potential.
We can achieve increased capacity for performance either by actualizing potential or by decreasing levels of interference — or by a combination of both. To be fully effective, a coach must be actively engaged in the learning process and personally familiar with the kinds of vulnerabilities and obstacles an individual experiences. But beware: The barriers to personal learning and growth are often well guarded and may become even more entrenched when challenged.
Coaching is often about assisting individuals/groups to unlearn the personal and cultural habits that interfere with their ability to perform. In this, it differs from training/mentoring in that it is more than about information sharing/educating on a subject matter, but more often about assisting the person/group to overcome unconsciously held obstacles.
A qualified and experienced coach will be gentle in their approach to interferences that surface for an individual or team. An extensive list of tools and techniques learned over time, through trial and error is used (such as socratic questioning, hints, suggestions, and indirect probing).
Though this process may seem to take longer than a more direct approach, it is usually more successful over the long run and results in more sustained behavioural changes.
Strong Companies have Strong Coaching Cultures
Investing in the development of a strong coaching culture is not just a competitive advantage — it’s a growing organisational imperative.
Flexibility, agility, and Creative Problem Solving
Organisations with a high coaching culture helps to develop flexibility, agility, and creative problem solving which are invaluable when resources are limited or uncertain.
Members within a coaching culture are 16% better at bouncing back to full performance after setbacks, are 22% more confident in their ability to refocus after distractions, are 23% better at coming up with many possible solutions to problems they encounter, and are 17% more likely to rate their team’s ability to generate creative approaches to overcome challenges as above average when compared with other teams.
A coaching culture helps to buffer the impact of strife on personal well-being — a key factor in employee resilience and organisational success. Members from organisations with high coaching cultures are 20% more likely to engage in self-compassionate thinking, are 18% more confident in their ability to reframe, and are 20% more likely to report being able to recover quickly after stressful experiences
High coaching culture organisations encourage employees to learn from and lean on one another for support. Members are 15% more likely to support and encourage others when they are down, are 34% more likely to report feeling connected with members of their team, and are 26% more likely to endorse asking others for help during challenging times rather than trying to handle it themselves.
High coaching culture organizations have significantly higher revenue five-year average growth (14% higher) than low coaching culture companies, have significantly higher year-over-year revenue growth (45% higher) than low coaching culture companies, and are projected to experience an 18% increase in year-over-year revenue growth over time with just a 10% positive increase in coaching culture.
How to Recognise a Powerful Coaching Culture in a Larger Organisation
A coaching culture exists in an organisation when leaders, managers, and staff engage all their people with a coaching approach. When a deliberate coaching culture exists, it creates increased individual, team, and organizational performance and shared value for all stakeholders.
Though forming and implementing a deliberate coaching culture in a larger organisation takes some planning and effort, the rewards are evidently worth it.
Here are five signs that a larger organisation has ingrained a coaching culture into its workplace.
- The company openly advocates the benefits of coaching cultures (for individuals and teams). In order for employees to understand how a coaching culture will impact them directly. The company talks to them about the benefits and what they have to gain and shares with them the value that a coaching culture can have on their work and growth.
- Leadership is onboard. Enthusiasm is passed from the top down in the organization. The organisation’s leaders discuss the benefits of coaching cultures and demonstrate them. (Research into hundreds of organisations has shown that companies with strong coaching cultures are 60 percent more likely to have leadership promoting it.)
- The organisation has deliberately built a learning culture and is actively encouraging knowledge sharing. It is providing learning opportunities for employees to gain a deeper understanding of coaching and its methods. It is offering in-person workshops or training sessions through online or virtual learning.
The organisation is offering training around topics like how to give feedback, negotiation, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and delegation which is allowing the coaching culture to take shape within the organisation.
All employees have learned how to coach better and they are sharing that knowledge with their peers. By doing so, they are reinforcing their own learning and engaging in knowledge sharing–something key to organisational success.
The organisation is organising group and 1-on-1 mentoring. While mentoring and coaching are different, the organisation with a strong coaching culture in its workplace is implementing mentoring programs and enhancing its coaching culture.
They have built-in objectives and goals in their mentoring programs which are designed to accelerate employee development. They are pairing employees together with mentors and encourage them to define their long-term career goals. Mentors are supporting them and helping them to reach these goals.
The organisation is organising group mentoring sessions and facilitating a space where peers are coaching each other, sharing ideas, and offering encouragement. Peers are learning how to help to strengthen the company culture.
- The organisation is sharing the successes of coaching and mentoring with others. It is uncovering and sharing stories of how coaching or mentoring has been successful and how it is helping employees see the value and encouraging them to be involved. Leaders and managers are sharing their positive coaching experiences with others.
- The company is documenting its coaching relationships in the organisation which has led to positive outcomes. It is sharing these stories with others in the organisation which motivates others to become coaches or open them up to being coached themselves.