How Can I Tell If My Company Has A Coaching Culture?

Reading time: 4 minutes

Hear, sight, touch, smell and taste.

Not only is this the order of my actions when my takeaway food arrives, they are also all the 5 main senses of us humans, as first noted by Aristotle (thank you Google).

This is important today as I will be talking about what sensations you will experience when you are part of a company that truly has a coaching culture.

Actually, I will only be covering hear, sight and touch/feel. As taste and smell will only really apply to those of you who have some kind of lexical synaesthesia, which I am guessing will only be a few of you.

Now as always, it is good to start with a definition. So, let’s define coaching culture.

Simply put, a coaching culture is where a business prioritises coaching relationships across all areas of a business and regularly having effective coaching conversations as a way of enabling people to realise their potential and to support each other’s development.

It is not forced. You do not have a couple of managers who have the occasional coaching conversation every so often. It is, as the word ‘culture’ suggests, just the way that things are done around the company. You are living it each day.

Now, if you read that and thought that it sounds reminiscent of your current workplace, then it is very likely that you will relate fully to the three observations and sensations that I have highlighted below.

However, if you remain unsure that the definition above was accurate in describing the environment that you work in each day, then the list below will support you in determining whether your company does indeed have a coaching culture.

Let’s get stuck into it!

I See and Hear Regular 1 on 1s

A sudden realisation hit me literally as soon as I pressed my index finger down on the ‘A’ key on my keyboard to begin writing this sentence.

I realised that nowadays many people (perhaps even yourself) are not in full capacity office spaces anymore, so how would you know whether regular 1-on-1s are happening across the company?

Then thankfully I remembered that shared calendars exist… and also that people talk to each other!

Whether you are all in the same space or dotted around various locations and connected by wi-fi, there are various things that you can look for when determining whether your company has an embedding coaching culture.

Firstly, are you and others having regular 1-on-1s?

If so, this could be indicative of a people-focused approach, potentially pointing to some coaching happening.

Of course, you know what is happening during your 1-on-1s and whether they are sessions which contain coaching. However, there are multiple ways to discover if there are other coaching relationships that exist elsewhere in the business too and that it is an embedded element of the company culture and that you are not just receiving sporadic coaching.

The obvious way to determine is to ask people whether they are receiving regular coaching.

However other common observations are that the people around discuss their 1-on-1s and the outcomes that they are working towards because of them. You may also find that people are asking you for feedback on themselves or on others, which will then help them to gain more content and perspective for their future discussions.

If you listen carefully enough, you may be able to hear that baseline of professional and personal trust and mutual care, which these conversations build as it booms throughout your organisation.

I Feel Invested In

Working within a company that has a coaching culture will make you feel engaged, involved and valued.

You are walking through the office door each morning knowing that you are an asset that the company is investing in, rather than just one of many numbers that does a job, goes home, does a job, goes home… and repeat.

They are not just employing your hands; they are employing your brain and your heart and are pro-actively working on your development as a person. Your time with them is a journey to somewhere bigger and better than where you are now, and everyone has a role in helping each other to achieve those improvements that they can gain each day to get them there.

Following the publishing of our last blog, one topic that came up was about the importance of the chemistry between a person and their coach, and how it trumps subject matter knowledge.

A key part of coaching is to facilitate a person to reach their own conclusions, which does not always require an expert. Therefore, when a business is living a coaching culture and pro-actively having these discussions and encouraging others to do so also, it means that everyone, regardless of role and seniority, has the potential to guide and inspire another to be an even greater version of themselves.

I Have a Sense Of Freedom Within My Role

There’s an old saying that exists about this which sounds horribly unpleasant, so I am going to adjust it for you… There’s more than one way to skin a carrot.

However, to stick with this expression, if your role was the carrot, do you know many ways you can skin it?

If you are a part of a company with a coaching culture, then chances are that you will be more aware of the freedom and options available to you within your role, mainly because you will be asked more than being told.

That is because many of the discussions that you will be having, especially once you are established and familiar with your role will contain non-directive coaching questions.

These are open questions that serve the purpose of asking you how something is possible, rather than whether it is possible.

They are there to get your brain to take off and journey through potential options, therefore meaning that the answer will be formulated by you, rather than given to you.

The other bonus of having these discussions is that it opens the opportunity for things to be done differently, as coaching awards you with the environment to think about the possibility of multiple solutions and how they could work.

These coaching conversations build such an amazing foundation for you to learn, grow and succeed from.


Culture is abstract, meaning that it can be incredibly hard to fully determine and understand, even though it exists in behaviours that you can see. We do however hope that these observations have supported you to definitively answer that question that we asked right at the very start.

If you still have questions however floating around your mind around this topic, then please do not leave them unanswered. Get in touch with us!

If you enjoyed reading this blog, have a look at our quick video summary to ensure you have retained the key points:


Alex & The Excel Team

P.S. If you would like to discuss any of your learning & development challenges for 2021, call us on +44(0) 1628488 854.






About Excel Communications     

Excel Communications is a learning and development consultancy based near London in the U.K. For more than 30 years; we have been collaborating with clients across the globe.  

Partnering with Excel empowers you to evolve your people and business by fuelling a love for learning.   

We work with you to create unforgettably, customised learning experiences to achieve your vision of success and growth, with tangible results.   

View our case studies here.