The 5 Strategies That Build A Coaching Culture

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A study conducted by the International Coaching Federation and PricewaterhouseCoopers showed significant growth in the number of professional coaches, at a time when organisational coaching is thriving.

While many leaders and L&D professionals often ask about how to create a coaching culture, they don’t always have a clear idea of what it means.  

So today I want to explore this business critical topic by chatting through the following questions:

  • What is a coaching culture?
  • What are the benefits of having one?   
  • How do you build a coaching culture?

What Is A Coaching Culture?

A coaching culture means supporting your employees so that they learn new skills which enable them to increase their contribution in their role. As a result, each individual then becomes an even more significant asset to the company. A management culture that emphasises coaching, giving regular feedback, training and opportunities for growth creates an even more engaged and motivated workforce.

What Are The Benefits Of Having A Coaching Culture

When an organisation invests in a new HCM software system, a 3-year leadership development program for high potential talent or in developing a coaching culture, it expects an ROI.
In 2017 Gallup completed a research project on companies who have incorporated a coaching culture into their management process. 

Of the groups they studied, the majority demonstrated the following range of performance increase: 

    • 10% to 19% increase in sales 
    • 14% to 29% increase in profit 
    • 3% to 7% higher customer engagement 
    • 9% to 15% increase in engaged employees
    • 22% to 59% fewer safety incidents 

While some of these figures demonstrate small improvements, they are still improvements, and when a company commits to developing a coaching culture and supports this with appropriate resources, these numbers will only increase as the organisation’s coaching capabilities grow.  

Over time as managers and their team members have more frequent quality conversations, they feel empowered, supported and consequently are more engaged which impacts performance and retention.  

Employees also feel that the environment they now work in is open and receptive to ideas being shared, which leads to increased creativity, innovation and better decision making.  

How Do You Build A Coaching Culture?

There are many examples of organisations successfully implementing a coaching culture, across a variety of industries, including Pharmaceuticals. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) and Human Capital Institute (HCI) are currently researching the components of strong coaching cultures and how organisations use coaching to achieve strategic objectives.   

However, you can start the journey of building your coaching culture using the following five strategies.


1. Have A Strategy And Plan  

As with any organisational project, start with a strategy and plan. Be clear on questions such as:  

    • What organisational issues will the plan address?  
    • Why does the business want to take this step?  
    • What approach will you take; build the culture internally or work with external support?
    • What is the current culture towards coaching?  

Knowing the answers to these questiions will help you to develop a strategy that meets the organisation’s needs.

2. Lead By Example 

If an organisation is to build a coaching culture through leaders, its a ‘no-brainer’ that leaders also have a coach. If you choose not to take this approach, the risk is that leaders are sending the message, “you need help, but I am ok.” Instead, you want to be saying, “hey, I’ve gained real benefits from this, and now I want each member of my team to experience it too.”

If we take this example one stage further: it’s essential to start at the top of your organisation.

For an organisation to embrace a coaching culture, everyone including the CEO and board of directors must ‘walk the talk’.

3. Invest: Train Individuals At All Levels

Too often participants in our leadership development programmes have a perception that they have to schedule a block of time and book a room to have a coaching session with each member of their team. This style of coaching can work and isn’t the only way coaching can be implemented in today’s organisations.

A new model for high performance is to implement on the job learning. Here team members receive practical on the job coaching from their manager or team coach and can make instant changes as they work on daily tasks and projects. 

Over time, as team members experience more coaching, they can then be encouraged and supported to ‘self-coach’. Investing in training leaders to become flexible coaches is the foundation for future success.  

4.Create The Business Environment For Managers To Coach

“We don’t have time” is one of the most common reasons we hear why managers don’t coach.
If managers are feeling so pressured to deliver on their tasks, they will not feel able to create the time to spend with their team.

How many of your managers feel like this? How do you know? When did you last ask them?

Creating a coaching culture is also about creating the right business environment for managers to use their coaching

5. Be Great At Asking Questions  

The next time one of your team asks, “what to do?” and you notice yourself about to answer, STOP.
Instead, ask them “what do you think will work?” You can then follow this up with questions such as:  

    • What made you decide on this approach?  
    • What else could you consider? 
    • What are the pros and cons of the various options? 
    • What barriers may you face with your preferred option?
    • How can you prepare to handle this if you need to?


Taking this approach will demonstrate that you value their ideas, opinions and decisions, and will empower them. As you continue to coach on the job, you’ll find that people will begin to bring you solutions instead of problems, and they’ll encourage their teams and colleagues to do the same.

Developing a coaching culture has multiple benefits for an organisation as you have seen. Is this something your company is looking to explore? What do you now see as your next steps?   


Nic Hallett 

About Excel Communications 

Excel Communications has a 30+ year history as a global leadership and communication skills organisation dedicated to exceeding the expectations of clients through the training and development of their business and people. 

We have a team of expert trainers delivering programmes across four continents in multiple languages. Isn’t it time you got in touch? Call us now on +44 (0) 1628 488 854.