How creating a coaching culture could help you attract the brightest talent

Gone are the days when employers could rely on just offering a healthy salary to persuade people to move jobs. Developing a coaching culture within your company could be a powerful way to help you do just that.

The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way many of us see work. While pay is of course still important, achieving a good work-life balance is now top of lots of people’s job wish lists. And that means employers need to offer extras like flexible working hours, working from home, more holiday, and so on to attract the best people. But it can be easy to overlook other things you can do to tempt job seekers to choose your company over another. One of these is creating a coaching culture – it’s a great way to empower your people by unlocking their potential.

As an IIP Gold-accredited business, we’ve been working hard to encourage our managers to lead with a coaching style, rather than a ‘do as I say’ directive approach. This takes time, support, training and encouragement, which means making a long-term investment in our managers. It’s something we’re happy to do though because we realise how important it is to develop our people. It also reflects well on the business as a whole – job seekers are looking to work for organisations that can show they’re adopting this style of leadership, so they know they’ll have a voice and be listened to.

What’s coaching?

Let’s turn to an expert for the answer to this – Sir John Whitmore, a pioneer of coaching in the workplace.

‘Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn, rather than teaching them’ (Coaching for Performance).

To expand on that, coaching is a development approach that focuses on using one-to-one conversations to enhance someone’s skills and knowledge. It gives people the opportunity to assess both their strengths and their areas for development.

What’s the difference between coaching and training?

Coaching is about helping someone make progress at work by listening, questioning and challenging them. It’s an ongoing development process that you can use every day. Whereas training is about sharing knowledge and teaching skills in a more structured way, often in a classroom-type environment.

According to research, companies that offer training alone can increase staff productivity by 22.4%. But when you combine this with coaching, that figure goes up to 88%. This is because coaching helps employees feel more engaged. It improves their skills, increases confidence and motivation, and can even resolve conflicts.

What’s a coaching culture?

A coaching culture simply means making sure all your managers are helping their team members employees reach their full potential and become greater assets to your company. It’s about emphasising regular feedback and opportunities for growth (and also training) to create a more engaged and energised workforce.

Who should carry out coaching at work?

As coaching is a day-to-day activity, ideally line managers will do it. But you might need to bring in some external trainers or coaches to make sure they have the right skills and tools to coach.

A good coach needs to be able to:

  • use active listening and open questions (‘who, what, where, when and how’) to understand what employees want to achieve
  • give positive feedback (it’s all about learning)
  • motivate the person they’re coaching to action
  • know when to challenge and when to support
  • match their style to suit the person they’re coaching and their specific situation.

There are a number of different models that you can use to structure a coaching conversation. One of those is the GROW model, created by Sir John Whitmore in the late 1980s. It’s a simple four-step process you can use to help structure a coaching conversation or session with a team member. Others include CLEAR and OSKAR (and many more), all of which you can use to guide your team member through a logical sequence, to help them get the most out of a conversation or session.

Want to know more?

If you’d like to know more about building a coaching culture at your organisation, we can help. Feel free to get in touch.

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Written by

Caroline Batchelor

A graduate of Manchester University, Caroline started her recruitment career in 1999. She’s been with Pure since we began in 2002. As a Director, Caroline’s responsible for mid-to-senior level HR recruitment across Cambridgeshire. She’s also a qualified coach and co-facilitator of our Women’s Leadership Programme.

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