Building a Coaching Culture on Your Own Business

Emilia D’Anzica, Founder & Managing Partner, Growth Molecules.

The Center for Creative Leadership describes “coaching culture” as a culture that applies a coaching mindset to the entire organization. A coaching mindset influences and filters through all interactions, including how managers give feedback to their employees, how employees engage with one another and how your whole team interacts with clients.

What does a Coaching Culture Look Like?

From my perspective, a coaching culture includes:

  • Empowering others to reach their fullest potential;
  • Asking questions vs. telling answers;
  • Providing constant feedback vs. only offering feedback during an annual review;
  • Putting people over profits;
  • Becoming comfortable with giving and receiving feedback;
  • Providing space to learn, grow and even fail;
  • Focusing on shifting your mindset.

When you create a coaching culture, productivity can increase, which can, in turn, lead to greater profits as well. According to Gallup’s 2020 meta-analysis report on employee engagement (registration required), there’s a connection between how engaged an employee is and their performance. Essentially, the more engaged someone is at work, the better they will perform. And higher performance can equal greater revenue.

One of the consultants on my team shared with me that whenever I give her feedback, she leaves the conversation feeling empowered and motivated — something that she didn’t always feel with other leaders. I’ve found offering employees frequent and timely feedback on what’s going well and opportunities to improve creates emotional safety, which can help teams feel confident when taking risks and running with ideas. They know it’s OK to make the occasional mistake, and they’ll still feel supported.

I believe mistakes are how people grow. When they feel they have a safe space to learn, try new skills and apply creativity, I find that people will often strive to do and be their best.

How, then, can you create a coaching culture? Below are a few of my tips for getting started:

Actively Listen.

Active listening is a skill that can take time to develop. It means listening to hear versus listening to respond; you’re giving someone your full attention and presence as they speak. When you can actively listen and remain completely neutral while your team members share what they’ve learned through an experience, you establish trust, foster innovative thinking and show them it’s OK to be in the learning process. You’re giving them the opportunity to grow and improve in the future.

Guide People to their Own Wisdom.

Want to really see someone light up? Ask more questions. In the book The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever, author Michael Bungay Stanier shared a simple yet profound question that has really made a difference in my conversations with my team and clients: ”And what else?” Asking this question allows the other person to access a deeper layer of thought.

Instead of coming to your team with the answers, give them the opportunity to come up with their own solutions first. This helps the person dig deeper. In my experience, your team will be inspired to go above and beyond when they feel like they have the space to create, that their voice matters and that they can put ideas into action. It’s easy to tell someone what to do, but that doesn’t always encourage innovative thinking or a learning opportunity. 

Culture is a top reason great candidates choose to work for a company. Many workers even value culture over a higher salary. I get excited about providing the type of culture and working environment that I always wanted to experience myself throughout my career. We often learn what works well for us by experiencing what doesn’t work or doesn’t feel good. I believe that soon, more and more organizations will realize the power in showing that people matter more than profits. Younger generations are demanding this, and the way we work is shifting. It’s time to change, and having a coaching culture is a great way to catalyze that change in your business.

You can also read this article at Forbes Council.

About the Author:

Emilia D’Anzica, Founder, Author, Growth Molecules™

Emilia has personally onboarded 1000s of customers in her 20+ year career and is an early Customer Success Manager in SaaS. She has held every title in customer success ranging from Support Manager to Chief Customer Officer. She believes that customer onboarding sets the trajectory for churn or growth. After helping companies like WalkMe experience exponential growth, she is now helping companies build teams, processes, and systems to scale. Emilia holds an MBA from Saint Mary’s College of California and a dual BA from the University of British Columbia. She is also PMP, and Scrum certified. She is the co-author of Pressing ON as a Tech Mom.

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