For the past five years, I have worked with the HR community in a worldwide leading organization, providing ICF accredited coach-specific training to more than 200 people over three continents. In this post, I will share the lessons learned and the potential coaching culture can provide for other companies.
Why Such a Program?
In 2013, the HR Corporate identified needs in coaching skills for HR employees while the need for coaching conversations increased everywhere in the organization to accompany major changes. Cristina Scialino, who at the time served as HR Director for HR Development Worldwide, remembers: “The role of Human Resources Leaders is becoming more and more strategic; we needed to upskill them to turn them into trusted partners for business leaders with a high focus on people proximity to better accompany the development of our teams in a world that was becoming more and more challenging and complex. This is the reason why the company decided to enroll an ICF accredited provider and to provide an international accreditation worldwide.” The first certified program ever was a coaching program!
What Kind of Impact?
After five years, the group now has an extended HR community worldwide with high coaching professionalism: already 18 cohorts (including the top of the HR pyramid) and around 220 managers (in 45 countries across all continents) are trained. All are integrating coaching skills in their HR missions. They have improved their professional people proximity, including feedback, career conversations and company transformation. All the cohorts were evaluated externally; on average, the return on expectation has been 93.5%. Here is a breakdown:
- 100% have increased self-awareness and self-development
- 100% of participants declare they have progressed in their presence and capacity to listen to others
- 95% have increased their ability to question others to stimulate their thinking and ideas
- 85% are leading their team better and feel they have increased people proximity
Qualitative interviews reinforced this, as evidenced by Maeve Coburn, Senior Vice President of Learning for Transformation, L’Oréal USA: “50 senior HR professionals in L’Oreal USA have completed the Coaching tools for HR program since 2015. The biggest impact has been a marked shift in HR leader posture from a ‘fix it’ mindset to a ‘strategic business partner’ mindset with their leaders and teams. They left the program with a renewed confidence to ask powerful questions, trust the coaching process and be a guide and partner with their stakeholders.”
How to Extend to Leaders? What are the Benefits of a Coaching Culture?
Coaching skills are now also relevant for leaders as a lever to accelerate the speed of change in new leadership behaviors and empower people. The extension of such a program to leaders is seen with many positive effects, according to some leaders themselves, including a country general manager who says, “It is a great opportunity to integrate coaching skills in the daily job for the benefit of all; it will allow the employees to find their own solutions and answers instead of the leader saying what to do!”
Developing coaching skills will increase empathy and employee centrality, which is a motivational driver to better match people and jobs, develop individuals and teams and consequently better answer to business needs and employees’ satisfaction.
A coaching culture is seen as a driver for future stakes and disruptive trends, such as digitalization and artificial intelligence. Many companies are reviewing the competencies for leaders focusing on “leadership behaviors” that encourage coaching skills and attitude for fostering managers-enablers. The more machines, the more human! Coaching has this characteristic to reveal richness and leverage human potential. It is expected to grow even more as an answer to future business challenges and people’s aspirations.
Aware of this expected growth and the importance coaching can play in organizations, the ICF Global Board is working to provide a greater space for organizations using coaching and stewarding coaching cultures. Through this, we want to expand the market for coaches in organizations and raise the standards for managers/leaders using coaching skills.
We know that leadership style is changing, and a coaching culture is a great lever to guarantee sustainability. Extending coach training to leaders will be the new challenge. The effects will be very visible on authenticity, self-regulation, quality of relationships and teamwork. As one business leader I worked with explains, “It brings better quality of work: common coaching spirit is acting as self-regulation process during meetings or when solving issues. As Manager I enjoyed the whole training. (…) The most important is reminding us that presence and mindfulness maximizes the potential of human being and organizations; and therefore creativity, well-being and performance.”
Creating a coaching culture though a coaching program across an organization is an impactful answer to employees’ aspirations, sense of purpose and personal development. In longer terms, it means allowing each employee to develop their better self and uniqueness, which can bring more economic performance and social progress.