A Coaching Culture Makes an Organization More Adaptable to Change

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Jun 19, 2019

Editor’s Note: It’s an annual tradition for TLNT to count down the most popular posts of the previous 12 months. This is No. 2 of the 708 articles. You can find the complete list here.


Like most companies, leaders at the managed healthcare provider CareSource have had to navigate through critical changes. First, it was a decade of significant expansion and rapid hiring, followed by hiring of a new CEO. What sets the CareSource apart from many companies is how it dealt with the rapid pace of change, forgoing a one-size-fits-all method and investing in a professional coaching culture specifically tailored to address both changes.

Most organizations today are in a constant state of change, yet many miss the mark when it comes to being nimble and adaptive, according to the Human Capital Institute (HCI). In fact, 85% of leaders told HCI their organization experienced an unsuccessful change management initiative within the last two years.

What’s causing the disconnect? Joint research from HCI and the International Coach Federation (ICF) shows that communication, leadership and planning can make or break a change initiative, and that most organizations ignore a key element that can strengthen organizations in all of these areas.

High performers have coaching cultures

ICF and HCI’s 2018 study, Building a Coaching Culture for Change Management, found that organizations with strong coaching cultures are more than twice as likely to also be labeled as high-performing organizations. One of the indicators for inclusion in this top tier of organizations was strong change management capabilities.

CareSource’s coaching culture helped leaders address a period of monumental growth, when the company grew from 900 employees to more than 4,200 including new leaders. CareSource created a leadership transition coaching program, where new leaders worked with an ICF-credentialed coach to identify the type of leader they wanted to be, and to improve essential leadership skills, such as prioritizing, delegating, having crucial conversations with direct reports and effectively navigating change.

Professional coaches also trained the new leaders on how to use a coaching approach with their direct reports and teams, which involves asking powerful, open-ended questions to help employees identify and overcome their barriers to success, and contribute to successful and powerful solutions.

ICF and HCI found that coaching activities are some of the most significant ways to build change readiness. Why? Because coaching is a process that relies on thought-provoking and creative questions that prompt the team or individual to contribute.

HCI and ICF discovered that high-performing organizations integrate coaching into all stages of their change management process, instead of using it as a way to save a derailed project. Those same organizations also employed a variety of learning activities for change that were geared toward the entire workforce — not just leaders — so all employees can learn and adapt.

Organizations with strong coaching cultures provide an atmosphere where managers and leaders learn to actively listen and ask the right questions during tough conversations, thereby helping employees identify the obstacles in the way of progress.

Coaching becoming a necessity

When it comes to dealing with a change of any magnitude, HR and other organizational leaders need to ensure consistency in communication and transparency to ease anxiety and fears and to mitigate internal resistance.

With the power coaching has to help teams address these challenges, it is no longer reserved for the C-suite nor is it a nice-to-have novelty. Rather, organizations are including coaching within their budget as a necessity. High-performing organizations that leverage coaching in varied modalities across their teams are more successful at navigating change compared to their peers. These organizations find their managers have greater confidence in their employees to be autonomous and creative, and the trickle-down effect helps to develop bench strength for the next generation of the organization’s leaders, better equipping its team to manage today’s change, and position itself for long-term success.