3 Ways To Transition Your Company To A Coaching Culture

March 4, 2019

In today’s work environment, knowing how to coach your team is an essential leadership skill. To effectively deliver performance feedback, leaders need to be equipped with high amounts of emotional intelligence and sharp communication skills to avoid damaging relationships, misunderstandings, resentment, and poor performance. Instead, leaders who know how to coach strengthen the self-confidence, self-esteem, and motivation of their team by using specialized skills that support, encourage, and highlight shared interest in the overall success of the team.

Traditional Performance Management Is Broken

Using a traditional performance review method that includes yearly or bi-annual feedback with 1-5 ratings feels mechanical, cold, and is not effective for objectively judging performance. This process can cause unnecessary stress, anxiety, and even emotional trauma for some unfortunate employees. The worst part is that this method is based on the assumption that human beings are capable of making sound, objective judgements about the performance of others. Studies show quite the opposite. Shockingly, 61% of a “rating” is based on the bias of the boss, not the actual employee performance. Imagine the frustration of having your yearly pay increase hinged on someone whose opinion is mostly biased. This type of performance management is broken.

More than ever, younger generations are demanding that companies adopt performance management systems based on ongoing feedback discussions and coaching, rather than unhelpful, infrequent, or non-existent methods. In fact, 70% of employees think reviews should focus on skills development and professional growth.

Why Coaching Matters

Growth and development doesn’t just happen by osmosis. It takes intentional and disciplined effort to accomplish a particular goal or outcome. But it’s so worth it. Having strong coaching skills allows leaders to use an emotionally intelligent and highly effective approach that produces positive results on performance. They foster more loyalty, respect, and cooperation through their interest in, and positive attitude toward, their team’s growth and development.

When we think back on those in life who challenged us, encouraged us, and supported us, many will imagine a coach on a sports team. While they look a little different in the business world, great coaches are those who helped us set challenging goals, held us accountable when we slipped up, and most importantly, motivated and inspired us to be better each day. Coaches help us overcome obstacles and be more successful. Memorable coaches are the ones who get results by increasing our self-esteem, self-confidence, and motivation to put in extra effort.

Many companies overlook the importance of developing the coaching skills of their leaders. This often leads to unclear expectations, poor feedback, and negative relationships between leaders and their teams. How can a team perform at its best when the leader is not prepared to coach?

To be more competitive and successful in today’s work environment, companies must provide the system and support that grows leaders who can effectively coach their teams to success. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Replace Outdated Performance Management With Real-Time Feedback Methods

Studies show that regular feedback reduces turnover by 15% and that 85% of millennials would feel more confident in their current position if they had more frequent performance conversations with their managers.

Take a look at how your company does performance reviews. Yearly, biannual, even quarterly review systems and 1-5 performance ratings that don’t focus on ongoing feedback and growth, have long been out of style. Research shows that these methods are demoralizing, increase turnover rates, and create resentment toward a leader or company. Furthermore, these types of performance management strategies miss out on the huge growth potential of giving performance feedback on a constant basis.

A more modern approach that many companies are adopting entails weaving continuous coaching and development into their culture and performance management strategies. Using a growth and development, or coaching system of performance management, drastically improves retention, engagement, and overall company success as it creates more happy, engaged, and skilled employees.

2. Give Leaders The Training They Need To Coach Their Team

It is unwise for companies to assume that highly skilled workers who are promoted to a management role already have the skills to effectively coach and lead their team. These employees are excellent workers, but they may not make the best leaders and coaches. They are usually well-intentioned and excel at things like strategy, analysis, and problem solving, but may struggle in the area of emotional intelligence. This skills gap can lead to many costly consequences like an unhealthy workplace where disengagement thrives, trust is low, and performance is well below what it should be. Fortunately, this can change.

Switching ourselves to a growth mindset reminds us that leaders can learn the skills they need in areas like emotional intelligence, delivering performance feedback, and effectively coaching their team to success. While the Peter Principle may exist, it need not apply to companies who focus on growth and development. When managers are given proper knowledge, skills, and resources to correctly do their job, they are much more likely to succeed. Knowing how to coach can take someone struggling to lead and dramatically increase their effectiveness and performance.

3. Have a System

Gaining the skills to coach is only the beginning. Without the proper operating system or organizational backing, efforts to develop a coaching culture will most likely not succeed. Therefore, once leaders are trained on how to coach their team, it’s important to implement a structure for feedback and collaboration that will act as a guide and resource for ensuring ongoing execution. Without the support of a proper system to compliment training, it will be difficult for companies to ensure that ongoing feedback is occurring.

Final Thoughts

The changing tide in workplace culture makes knowing how to coach a critical skill for effective leadership. Transitioning to a culture of increased emotional intelligence, real-time feedback, collaboration, and goal setting skills will have a dramatic impact on how employees perform for your company. If you would like to learn more about how to establish a coaching culture in your organization, please contact Sprout Leadership today.