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Engage for Engagement

We were recently asked to present at the Conferenz HR Leaders Summit, on the topic of Engagement. We chose to do so through the lens of creating a coaching culture, something we have a lot of experience in. In this blog we will share our observations with you.

A lot of organisations claim to have put effort into a coaching culture, but when we look at them we find that many have trained a few managers to be internal coaches and others have rolled out a coaching model at the management level. In our view these essentially miss the definition of the word culture, which to us means ‘how we do things around here’. Unless everyone is engaged in it, it’s not cultural. And there’s our first use of the word engagement.

Coaching is fundamentally an engagement approach in that it requires a two way dialogue between two people. If one isn’t engaged then no coaching happens. If the coaching relationship is between a manager and a direct report, then the fact that they are engaged inherently lifts the employees engagement and satisfies a key engagement principle of ‘my manager cares about me and my development’. Therefore in a coaching culture, everyone is engaged through coaching and as a result, the overall engagement of the organisation lifts.

We had three main observations that we shared at the Summit, and these were backed up by the latest Kenexa ‘engagement survey data of a client that we have been enjoying working with through the last year or so.

Engage for a Change

Too much training is rolled out as if thats an answer in itself. Our approach to creation of a coaching culture is to treat it like a change initiative. To that end we structure our programme around our DIEM

model. Whilst this is a model that we use to structure our approach, the key to engagement is how you roll out that structure. Our approach is to approach every activity in a coaching style and to engage in a way that expects and encourages the employee or manager to engage too. If we survey people, everyone gets a copy of the results. If we want input we set up cafes and focus groups. When we role out a new model, we do so in workshops that are run in a coaching style. So whatever your initiative, treat it like change and make every interaction an engagement exercise.

Engage Everyone, not just the Managers

If you want to create a coaching culture you need to show the employees what coaching actually is.  Most training just trains the manager. In our approach we also train the coachees. If not then we find that you have an environment where coachees feel as if coaching is being ‘done at them’ and that is inherently not engaging, Not only does this reduce the engagement impact but also sets the coach up for failure, which is disengaging for them in return. So simplistically, whatever your initiative, engage everyone in it, if you want to create engagement.

Find the WIIFM

Help people to find the WIIFM. WIIFM means ‘whats in it for me?. Our work has shown us that the more a manager holds on to their WIIFM the more likely they are to keep trying the coaching approaches, keep giving feedback and to keep offering coaching support as a result of that feedback. Without it, the use of coaching can get too hard for some. The same occurs with staff. If they have a clear WIIFM, they will open up to feedback and ask for coaching. WIIFM is the key to being engaged in a coaching culture and not. So whatever your initiative help people to find their WIIFM

Our Client

And the Kenexa results that our client had? At an organisational wide level they had a shift in engaged people of 6.7% with key questions:

  • I am encouraged to develop my knowledge, skills and abilities: +7.7
  • I get regular feedback on my performance (formal/informal): +7.7
  • The feedback & coaching I get helps me to improve performance: +7.4
  • I feel my contribution is valued in this organisation:+6.8
  • I get recognition when I do a good job:+5.1

But the main result was in an area where everyone said that the head and his management team had really engaged in the coaching culture initiative, whose level of engaged people increased by 14.8% . Their results for these questions were:

  • I am encouraged to develop my knowledge, skills and abilities:+16.8
  • I get regular feedback on my performance (formal/informal): +14.9
  • Feedback & coaching I get helps me to improve performance: +13.3
  • I feel my contribution is valued in this organisation: +14.9
  • I get recognition when I do a good job: +16.8

As this team constitute about 25% of the organisation then their results were a significant factor in raising the whole organisations results, and the whole organisation told us that this was largely to do with their engagement in coaching.

So if you want to raise engagement consider everything you do as an engagement opportunity and deliver in an engaging style. And if you are interested in developing a coaching culture, we would love to hear from you.


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