Organisations often say ‘yes we do coaching’. Dig deeper, yes they may have put people through some coach training. Some senior managers may have some form of Executive Coaching. But little more than that is present. Though in the same breath these organisations fully acknowledge the value and benefits of what it brings to employees and the business. The current Covid climate puts more emphasis on the need to have a strong people performance focus. Leaders forging a new relationship with employees.

Despite the known value, few organisations and leaders go beyond dipping their toes in it. Fewer still fully embrace an integral coaching philosophy. So why is it still treated like a ‘side salad’? Something separate to the main course? Something not part of the ‘real’ job? If it is good enough for senior managers and the select few, isn’t it good enough for the rest of the organisation? Why isn’t it an integral part of their organisational learning, operational and performance diet?  Part of its culture.

Reasons for coaching being a side salad…

Organisations cite many reasons (excuses?) as to why coaching isn’t a mainstream activity and approach within their walls. Be ‘it’ too expensive, too big a piece to look at or ‘not ready for coaching’. Similarly, organisations still treat and measure it differently to other organisational activities and development. Employees can see it as a HR initiative rather than an organisational project so interest is less. Some organisations don’t know how to make it an integral part of how the organisation operates. Many organisations don’t think properly about how to bring coaching to life. Finally, for some it is a ‘passion project’. Where one or two people try to drive it and it never matures, momentum is lost.

Getting coaching on your organisational menu

Yes introducing coaching and coach development internally can initially seem expensive. Potentially more than transactional technical skill development per person, but far less than management development. If you view it as simply another piece of training, senior managers will see it as an expensive nice to have. Especially if they have never been exposed to it . But if it is viewed as an everyday organisational activity and tool, then the perceived cost is negated.

Don’t have eyes bigger than your stomach

Tell some one you are going to a Chinese New Year dinner with over 20 courses and people may question your ability to eat it all. Tell them its small portions over 4-5 hours then it’s easier to consume. The same with coaching. Announce a grand initiative, the organisation will rightly challenge cost and impact upon operational deliverables. But create a coaching strategy supporting your HR, People and Organisational strategies with subtle interventions at different levels then it’s evolution not revolution. Build it into your policies and practices and it becomes a norm. Reference it in communications and embed in development and it becomes cultural.

We take this approach with many other organisational activities, so why not coaching too? Being a coaching ‘guerilla’, subtly and seruptitiously implementing ideas, practices and approaches. Doing it under the cover of other activities, projects and conversations. Organisations will often tell you what you can’t do, but rarely what you can do…

Not ready for coaching..? De-construct coaching into its core ingredients – conversations, development, questioning, listening, idea generation, problem solving, feedback, change, relationship development etc. etc. Of course you are ready for it, as it is simply doing what you should do every single day, it’s simply about doing it even better. Simplistic I know, but there in lies the challenge AND opportunity…

Bring it to life

If you really want to implement coaching, then do it, just find the best way of doing it for your organisation. Where there is a will there most definitely is a way. Want to find out more about how to bring it meaningfully into your organisation? Download my expert guide on establishing a coaching culture.

Nick Howell is an evangelist for all things coaching, leadership and development. Director of Abintus, he works with individuals and organisations. Encouraging and developing organisations to create their own coaching cultures, philosophies, skills and coaches.