Do you have a coaching-friendly culture?

Coaching is not new. Coaching is a long-established, proven development option that is highly learner-centered (arguably more so than any other…?) And yet, as a result of the pandemic, coaching may be set to become more important than ever. In a recent survey conducted by Maximum, the following coaching-related results were found:

  • 66% of organisations expect to be seeing more of the ‘line manager as coach’ approach.
  • 51% are focused on developing an internal pool of qualified coaches.

It seems inevitable: if coaching isn’t already part of your organisation’s L&D toolkit, it will be. But are you ready? Is coaching seen as a viable approach in your organisation? Where does it stand in the pecking order of training options? Put simply, do you have a coaching-friendly culture?

What does a coaching-friendly culture look like?

From a coaching perspective, the organisational culture should support and encourage learning at an individual level through, well, conversations. Fundamentally, coaching is a conversational – i.e. two-way – approach to learning and development. In a coaching-friendly culture the following activities are not just accepted and used but are the norm:

  • Regular feedback is given and received.
  • Both new thinking and deeper thinking are encouraged.
  • Everybody is challenged, but supportively so.
  • Conversations around development are common and frequent; also short but impactful.

Get the foundations in place

If you need to nurture a coaching-friendly culture, the following foundations need to be in place. If you think you already have such a culture, maybe use this as a checklist to confirm that you do, or identify where that culture could be strengthened…

  1. Make managers accountable for employee development – Yes, individuals have personal responsibility for their own learning too, but when it’s part of the manager’s responsibilities and will be measured as part of their performance, there’s more appetite for options such as coaching.
  2. Make coaching routine (i.e. normalise it) – Whether it’s weekly coaching sessions for the team, or allocating a weekly ‘Coaching Day’ to focus on learning and improvement, to become habitual coaching needs to be happening regularly and often in some form.
  3. Emphasise a variety of types of coaching – There’s more than one kind of coaching. A coaching-friendly organisation is open to executive coaching, team coaching, ad hoc/just-in-time coaching, and by extension, the similar activity of mentoring.
  4. Feedback & question skills – Are you managers equipped to give feedback? Do they know the questions to ask to encourage learning (e.g., “How did you decide on that approach?”, “How could you have done it differently?”, etc.)
  5. Train coaches (at all levels) – Deliver training in good coaching practice to embed the skills and encourage the right attitudes (this doesn’t have to be a formal course – why not drop-in remote lunchtime sessions?)
  6. Lead by example – Are you or other managers/leaders using coaching as a tool? You can’t really expect other people to jump on the coaching wagon if you won’t. Start at the top.

Is it worth the effort? Of course. A Gallup research project a few years ago noted that companies that established a coaching culture saw sales and profits increase, and both customer and employee engagement improve.


As to where the UK stands now, our own research this year found that only 5% of organisations would describe themselves as “there” when it comes to a coaching culture; though 81% are “working towards it”. That’s a lot of businesses working to make their workplaces coaching-friendly. If a coaching culture is something you see as desirable for your business, a good place to start is our three-day Creating a coaching environment programme. Or just give us a call on 01582 463461. We’re here to help.

Categories: Coaching

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