Implementing a Coaching Culture – The 5 E Model

Coaching culture
5 E Coaching Model

by Rafal Szaniawski, Coach, mentor, faculty member at Solutions Academy

Over the last couple of years, we have observed a real interest among organisations in creating and nurturing a coaching culture. As with every major transformational development, we have seen and heard about various levels of success and challenges with this deeply impactful initiative.

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In this article, I am sharing a simple and useful framework that can help organisations introduce coaching culture and make a real difference to their employees.

In my experience collaborating with various organisations of different sizes, within different industries and countries, perhaps unsurprisingly, the challenges they faced have been similar.

These would typically be:

  1. Leaders saying, they don’t have time to coach people (‘I don’t have time to spend 45min coaching them!’),
  2. Confusion about what coaching is and how it differs from mentoring, sponsorship, therapy, positive psychology, etc.,
  3. Fear of shifting from telling to asking while holding conversations with the teams,
  4. Lack of executive sponsorship

There may be additional challenges, but the above are generally the most prominent.

My response to these challenges has been an approach which I simply call the ‘5 E Model’. Based on my experience and the results I have seen; I know it can help organisations introduce and/or nurture coaching culture in the organisation.

Let us then explore the model and its implementation.

‘5 E’ stands for:

  • Educate
  • Equip
  • Empower
  • Endorse
  • Experiment

The first element is Educate
The first step is to educate people about what coaching culture means and what coaching is and is not. It also means educating the decision makers and employees about the vision you have for a coaching culture in your organisation. That’s an important step to make sure everybody is clear what you want to achieve, what benefits this would offer and how this will impact people in your organisation.

The best way to do it is to use variety of channels where you can speak and engage with the employees and decision makers and have opportunity to answer any questions they may have. These would typically be presentations, team meetings, town halls, webinars, holding informal lunch & learns. You may want to partner with your internal communication team to find the best way to reach the people you need to, taking into account the specifics of your organisation.

The second element of the model is Equip
You need to equip people with coaching skills and techniques. This really means you need to make sure they learn and practise in a safe space the coaching skills they will want to use in their everyday interactions with others.

This will require you to run training sessions, and ideally develop a structured training programme. If you don’t feel that you are an expert, you may consider hiring an external partner. Whichever path you decide to go, I always encourage you to remember 2 important factors: know your audience , that is, how they best learn, how they can access training, etc.; and keep it simple, meaning do not overcomplicate the training. Simplicity will help them to learn.

The third element is Empower
It is extremely important to empower people in your organisation to go ‘out from the classroom’ and start using the skills and techniques they learnt.  In my experience you can do it by being vocal and honest about initial challenges in using the skills they have just learnt, and ensuring they know you have confidence in them applying the skills.

The fourth element is Endorse
It is highly critical to endorse the movement as it will gain corporate ‘support and help people embrace it as a new interesting reality. You can do it by, for example, finding an executive sponsor and showcasing some stories of transformation. What is proven to be extremely impactful, is to make sure the coaching culture is endorsed by people who matter, such as, leaders, role models, & senior management.

The fifth element of the model is Experiment
I always say ‘don’t worry if things don’t go perfect on day 1’ and that’s the message I encourage you to embrace and share with the people involved in the project. Encourage people to experiment on your own, invite others to experiment with each other and then create space to come together, reflect, pause, and adapt as you go. The wise message is that when you experiment, you learn (and never fail)

Coaching culture does not mean everybody becomes a coach or everybody gets a coach. Coaching culture means we all learn skills to transform our conversations, making them empowering, constructive, & inspiring. It’s a transformational journey both for individuals and organisations that decide to embrace it.

The above framework helps our organisations and people embrace and champion the very coaching culture we all aim for so much.

I would be keen to hear your views on that!