Moving the Organization to A Coaching Culture

Much is being written these days about culture in organizations...What is culture? Can you change it?  How do you change the culture?
In my view, since the culture is the people, then you certainly can change it.
However, it really helps if you know What the change is and Why it would be a good thing for the organization (and its customers) to make the change.
In a Harvard Business Review piece, titled, “Why HR Really Does Add Value,” Rubbermaid CEO Brian Hults had this to say about HR:
"In order to add significant value to a business, HR must be able to support and enable the execution of strategy through building organizational capability. This is a role that cannot be automated, shared as a service, offshored or outsourced. It comes from an intimate knowledge of a business’s strategy and the existing capabilities of the organization. The great advantage that HR has in this area is that, ultimately, all strategy is executed by people – people who need to be supported, trained and equipped to fulfill the strategic vision. This is the real role of HR."

So in his view, the real value-adding role of HR is to support, train and equip the people who do the work in the organization. When HR does this, it supports and enables the execution of the business strategy.
Though Hults does not say it quite this directly, to me it seems that the critical core competency of HR therefore ought to be coaching.

Coaching = “the process of directing, instructing and training
a person or group of people, with the aim to achieve some goal.”
What does a highly effective coach do?
Let’s look at a team in sports. It could be a soccer team, a basketball team, a baseball team or any other sport you like. Take your pick.
An effective coach supports the team –  Every team needs support. This support takes many forms, from information and tools, to encouragement, recognition, and leadership.
An effective coach trains the team – Every team needs skills. Some of the skills are task related such as passing the ball and running specific plays; some are relationship related such as communication, cooperation, conflict resolution, and customer service.
An effective coach equips and enables the team – Every team needs to be properly equipped (e.g. helmets, pads, cleats), and properly aligned and motivated. The latter are attained via clear goals, a strong mission, a set of guiding values, and a compelling vision.
When a coach attends to these basic needs of their team, and works hard with each player to bring out their very best, what do you get? A winning team.
Now let’s return to a business organization. Lift the hood on any organization and what do you see inside? People working in teams that are interacting with each other to produce some service or product for a customer.
In most organizations, how effective is the teamwork? If we are brutally honest, it could use some help. In today’s over-worked organizations, teams are under a lot of pressure. And the cracks will start to show. The rising levels of workplace stress alone should be setting off alarm bells in HR offices around the world.
Organizational teamwork needs a coach.
And who better to be that coach than HR? Working in concert with senior management and all the leaders in the organization, HR can spread the coaching capability to all the teams across the enterprise.
This should not be a big stretch for most HR professionals, especially those who do a bit of coaching already. In my past experience, working in HR for many years, I saw plenty of examples of HR providing needed just-in-time coaching, often to address, or head off, an employee relations issue.
But to really attain the level that Hults is talking about requires more. What this amounts to is a culture change in the direction of coaching. For any culture change project, the following questions will provide the HR team with a roadmap to success:
What is the culture we desire? Painting a vivid picture of the end-state you envision will help you generate excitement and energy…and overcome the inertia of the present state.What would a coaching culture look like here at Company XYZ?
Why do we want to make this change? Getting very clear on the “why” is critical. Clarifying and communicating the importance of the change will help awaken the engagement you’ll need to get there.
What obstacles will we face in setting out on this journey? Approaching any large scale change is daunting. Going into it with your “eyes wide open” is critical so you are not blind-sided by something that could trip you up.
How do we get everyone on board?   When it comes to change, someone inevitably asks, “How will we get buy-in?” The answer is simply, Invite everyone into the process, from the beginning. Leave no one out. Give a voice to all.
What resources will we need to get there?   Careful planning is the key. Lining up the resources you will need, such as training, communications, and periodic progress checks, is vital. And another resource you’ll need is patience. And determination, unrelenting movement in the desired direction, without hurrying, taking the time to do it right and making sure no one is shut out or left behind.
How can we begin? As the saying goes, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step.” The way to get started is to begin. Take that first step. Then another. And so on.
By creating a coaching culture, where coaching capability is found throughout the organization, HR can deliver on its highest calling:  to add value by supporting strategic execution.
A version of this blog post appears as the cover article in the November issue of Accelerate magazine. Click here for a preview. 
Terrence Seamon is a Training and Organization Development consultant, coach, speaker, facilitator, and writer. Follow him on twitter @tseamon, and on facebook Facilitation Solutions.


Planet Expat said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Planet Expat said…
HR coaching is always beneficial for expats.

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