headshot of Darci Ahlin-Stieren
Darci Ahlin-Stieren
HR Solutions, LLC
The Associated General Contractors of Alaska logo
Creating a Coaching Culture
Defining your workplace culture
By Darci Ahlin-Stieren

ultures manifest in our day-to-day work environments. There are often a basic set of beliefs, practices, and norms shared by the company that shape its day-to-day operations. With continued practice of these standards over time, we create the workplace culture.

How would you define your company’s culture? What are the defining features? Do the policies in place and how they are currently practiced hint at the type of culture? Does the current culture align with your mission, vision, and strategic goals? Is your workplace culture helping or hindering growth and performance? Is your culture having an adverse impact on recruitment and retention?

Defining Workplace Coaching
The term “coaching,” when considered as part of the workplace culture, can be defined differently depending on how it is applied. In this context, workplace coaching leverages individuals’ abilities and strengths while encouraging regular communication, reflection, self-correction, and continuous growth.

When we hear the word “coach,” we assume a method that works from the top down.

Why Coaching? Why Now?
Rapid and disruptive changes are now the norm, occurring in all workplaces across all industries to some degree. In the path of these changes sits the role of leadership. Those organizations that are transforming into a coaching model have realized the benefits in shifting away from traditional styles such as autocratic or command-control.

For a successful coaching culture to develop, however, all employees, regardless of their role or level, can learn new skills—including coaching. Developing coaching skills in leadership means they facilitate problem solving and encourage employees’ development by asking questions and offering support and guidance rather than giving orders and making judgments. After all, the goal of workplace coaching is about creating an environment where people want to work, where feedback is a regular occurrence, productive conversations are being had, and growth is encouraged.

Coaching, when integrated into organizations, promotes creativity, improved performance, greater resilience, reduced turnover, and a more positive workplace culture.

Developing Coaching Skills
Those in leadership know it can be difficult, even lonely at times. Developing and employing coaching skills can help provide a new perspective and support when faced with stressful situations or when making tough decisions.

Leaders can begin to develop their coaching skills by:

  • Increasing their awareness of coaching and its benefits and buying in to the concept and process;
  • Educating themselves on coaching concepts and tools;
  • Identifying their own coaching style, assessing their own skill level, and identifying others’ preferences for being coached;
  • And providing judgment-free feedback in regularly scheduled intervals.

One of the many different coaching models available is the GROW model. Developed by pioneer of executive coaching Sir John Whitmore, the GROW model framework can help individuals and groups to solve problems, set and achieve goals, and improve performance. It has four parts:

  • Goal—Determine what the individual wants to accomplish right now. What is it they want to achieve before they leave the conversation?
  • Reality—Help employees focus on the facts of the situation by asking what, where, when, and who questions. Avoid “why” questions, which can imply judgment or elicit a need for justification. This step can help people to slow down and consider the problem thoughtfully.
  • Options—Uncovering the possibilities and allowing the employee to work at solving the issue can be as simple as asking them, “What would you do if you had a magic wand?” Thinking this way can help them consider new perspectives and fresh ideas.
  • Will—Ask the employee what they will do next. This can clarify the strategy discussed and get them focused on the solution. Being specific in determining next steps takes it from brainstorming to action

Employees are more likely to feel invested in the outcome of their work and achieve performance goals when they are coached to perform rather than managed to perform.

Overall Benefits of a Coaching Culture
We are continuing to experience uncertainty in our economy and, while we try to prepare for it, we know it won’t be without its challenges. The blueprint of the workforce is changing, and it inevitably will require new skills, new processes, new structures, and new ways of thinking. No one is going to have all the answers. Therefore, developing a coaching culture can be crucial for any company to integrate into their workplace.
Darci Ahlin-Stieren, PHR, CPC, principal of HR Solutions, LLC, is a certified human resource practitioner and leadership coach with more than twenty years’ experience. A trusted resource and business partner, Ahlin-Stieren offers scalable human resource outsourcing solutions, training, and leadership coaching.