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Toward a Theory of Organizational Coaching Integration (Working Paper)

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  • Teaiiano Leadership Solutions
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Abstract

Despite a growing interest in creating coaching cultures, few papers provide a comprehensive model for organizational leaders to assess the degree to which coaching already occurs within their organization. This paper begins by reviewing business literature pertinent to coaching integration and examines terminology related to organizational coaching. Then, it proposes and discusses the Coaching Integration Framework. This framework helps leaders and practitioners to explore how coaching already exists in organizational life to determine how deeply coaching is embedded or ingrained into the culture. Eight case studies illustrate phases of coaching integration that organizations experience when building a coaching context, capacity, capability, and, if so chosen, a coaching culture. The final sections will discuss the practical application for executives and human resource leaders and provide directions for future research.
Running head: ORGANIZATIONAL COACHING INTEGRATION
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DRAFT PLEASE DO NOT QUOTE OR CITE WITHOUT
PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR. THE FRAMEWORK
EMPLOYED HERE IS A WORK IN PROGRESS.
Toward a Theory of Organizational Coaching Integration
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Thomas E. Anderson II
Teaiiano Leadership Solutions, Germantown, Maryland
July 2021
1
Thomas E. Anderson II is the Founder/CEO of Teaiiano Leadership Solutions. The author wishes to thank Dr.
Diane M. Wiater, Dr. Cathleen Cabler, Jamie Anderson, and Julie Jenkins for feedback on early iterations of this
framework. Please direct correspondence to t_anderson@teaiiano.com.
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Abstract
Despite a growing interest in creating coaching cultures, few papers provide a comprehensive
model for organizational leaders to assess the degree to which coaching already occurs within
their organization. This paper begins by reviewing business literature pertinent to coaching
integration and examines terminology related to organizational coaching. Then, it proposes and
discusses the Coaching Integration Framework. This framework helps leaders and practitioners
to explore how coaching already exists in organizational life to determine how deeply coaching
is embedded or ingrained into the culture. Eight case studies illustrate phases of coaching
integration that organizations experience when building a coaching context, capacity, capability,
and, if so chosen, a coaching culture. The final sections will discuss the practical application for
executives and human resource leaders and provide directions for future research.
Keywords: organizational coaching, coaching integration, coaching culture
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Toward a Theory of Organizational Coaching Integration
A recent surge in academic and trade literature indicates an increased interest among
business leaders and practitioners on how coaching cultures can produce strategic outcomes for
their organizations. However, a study conducted by the Human Capital Institute (HCI) and
International Coach Federation (ICF) found that only 15% of organizational decision-makers
indicated their organizations showed signs of a strong coaching culture (Filipkowski, Ruth, &
Heverin, 2018). Assuming the HCI-ICF sample represents a diagonal slice across organizations
worldwide, a gap exists between the number of organizations desiring to build a coaching culture
and those demonstrating substantial evidence of its existence. Therefore, an opportunity exists
for coach practitioners, organization development professionals, management consultants, and
coach training houses to assist the estimated 85% of organizations that do not yet show strong
signals but desire to build coaching cultures. Granted, not every company wants to build a full-
fledged coaching culture; but because employees have undoubtedly experienced coaching, this
widespread practice occurs on various levels within organizations.
Despite a growing interest in creating coaching cultures, few papers provide a
comprehensive model for leaders to assess the degree to which coaching already takes place
within their organization, along with sequential phases encountered when building a coaching
context, capacity, capability, and if desired, a coaching culture. This paper begins with a review
of business literature pertinent to coaching integration. Then, it will present and discuss a
framework to gauge how coaching already exists in organizational life and determine how
deeply coaching is embedded or ingrained in the culture at present. The paper will review eight
case studies to illustrate coaching integration at each phase of the framework. The final sections
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will discuss the practical application for executives and human resource leaders and directions
for future research.
Organizational Coaching
To date, business literature has placed less focus on a definition of organizational
coaching. Instead, contributions emphasize the conditions and context under which workplace
coaching occurs and how leaders and managers can respond to these conditions to ensure
successful workplace coaching programs. The terms business coaching, workplace coaching, and
systemic coaching are used synonymously withor at least, in a similar fashion tothe term
organizational coaching. Developmental coaching, executive coaching, and coaching culture
represent reoccurring themes in the organizational coaching literature. Several significant works
defined organizational coaching in reference to actual outcomes produced. Moreover, researchers
and practitioners often discuss organizational coaching in conjunction with executive coaching
due to salient impacts of the modality on business outcomes (Ciporen, 2015; Grover & Furnham,
2016). Organizational coaching aims to foster:
positive, systemic transformation within organizations….to help organizations achieve
strategic objectives, enhance leadership capability, and create culture change. Broader
organizational needs are placed front and center, and the coaching is used to scale-up
change across the enterprise. While there is overlap, this broader focus [stands] in
contrast to executive or leadership coaching which targets the individual’s development
needs and more typically comprises standalone engagements. (S. David, n.d.)
The Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (2011) explained:
business coaching is an inclusive term that refers to all types of business and
organizational coaching. It is practiced by internal and external coaches who may identify
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as corporate coaches, executive coaches, leadership coaches, organization development
coaches or other types of business coaches. Regardless of the practitioner’s title, business
coaching is defined by its dual focus on the client and the client’s organization. (para.5)
A handful of meta-analyses define coaching and explain how it works in organizational settings.
Jones, Woods, and Guillaume (2016) defined workplace coaching as a one-to-one learning and
development intervention that uses a collaborative, reflective, goal-focused relationship to
achieve professional outcomes that are valued by the coachee (p.250). Jones et al. (2016) also
highlighted the importance of preserving the distinction between coaching and other
developmental relationships and interventions (e.g., performance management relationships)
while placing it within the context of human resource management (pp.250-251). Bennett and
Bush (2009) noted multiple purposes for workplace coaching, including leadership development,
performance coaching, career coaching, and executive coaching. Grant (2012) highlighted the
range of positive outcomes that workplace coaching can have on workplace engagement, stress,
and well-being. He also proposed well-being and workplace engagement as two critical variables
for coaching in organizational settings and suggested the Well-Being Engagement Framework,
or WBEF, to measure coaching effectiveness in organizations (Grant, 2012).
The Human Capital Institute (HCI) partnered with the International Coach Federation
(ICF) to produce a series of studies and reports that provide insights on how to make sense of
coaching within organizational life (Filipkowski, Heverin, & Ruth, 2016, 2019; Filipkowski &
Ruth, 2015; Filipkowski, Ruth, & Heverin, 2017; Filipkowski et al., 2018; Human Capital
Institute, 2014). Other studies on organizational coaching (e.g., experiments and case analyses)
investigated developmental coaching (Leonard-Cross, 2010; Locke, 2008), coaching for
increased employee confidence (Gyllensten & Palmer, 2014), the future of coaching in adult
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populations (Pappas & Jerman, 2015), the use of coaching in adult learning environments (Cox,
2015), measuring coaching effectiveness (Tooth, Nielsen, & Armstrong, 2014), coaching as a
tool to achieve the interior aspects of sustainability (Outhwaite & Bettridge, 2009), coaching
for resilience during organizational change (Sherlock-Storey, Moss, & Timson, 2013), coaching
during the process of organization change (Jim, 2016), and current trends and future
opportunities in organizational coaching (Bennett & Bush, 2009).
Kahn (2011) examined the interface between business coaching relationships and
organizational, interpersonal, and intrapsychic systems, referring to the environment as the
current systemic reality (p.195). It is noteworthy that Kahn (2011) explored an integrative and
systemic approach to workplace coaching but stopped short of labeling this approach as
systemic coaching. Kahn did emphasize that business coaching is more an engagement of
relatedness…and this relatedness is embedded in a greater systemic context, commonly an
organizational culture (p.194). Lawrence (2019) expounded on the complexity of the term
systemic coaching, saying:
[m]ore and more coaches, coach training houses, and authors are advocating a more
systemic approach to coaching. Most of these voices urge both coach and leader to look
beyond the dyadic relationship between coach and coachee, and interpersonal
relationships within a team, to consider the impact of other variables in the system. The
system metaphor, however, can be used to depict quite different approaches to working
with clients. (p.48)
In emphasizing the organization as a system, Kahn and Lawrence both reveal a vital point:
organizational coaching involves more than the dyadic interaction between coach and coachee.
Practitioners should consider the context in which coaching relationships are embedded.
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Organizational Context
Coaching is initially introduced to organizations by an internal leader with positive
coaching-related experiences or an external professional who coaches executives and inherently
models coaching behaviors. In either case, coaching occurs one-on-one or in a group setting, and
the organizational context should support it to accelerate the adoption of coaching practices and
normalize the capability within the culture. The business context significantly determines the
degree to which coaching champions can successfully embed coaching-related activity into
organizational life. Kahn (2011) proposed, [b]usiness coaching is defined as occurring within an
organizational context with the goal of promoting success at all levels of the organization by
affecting the actions of those being coached (p.194). This section will explore the terms
capability, capacity, coaching-friendly context (Hunt & Weintraub, 2007) to enrich the
discussion and set the stage for organizational coaching integration.
Capability
Winter (2000) defined an organizational capability as a high-level routine (or a
collection of routines) that, together with its implementing input flows, confers upon an
organization’s management a set of decision options for producing significant outputs of a
particular type (p. 983). Specific organizational routines can reveal areas in need of
development to support a strategic coaching capability. The presence of continuous, two-way
feedback within a system of ongoing performance evaluation and management provides a
practical example. Feedback represents a globally recognized coaching competency
(International Coaching Federation, n.d.). A leader’s ability to effectively give and receive
feedback signals the presence of effective two-way communication and the leader’s ability to
reserve adequate time to demonstrate coaching presence during the conversation. Additionally,
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the system of multidirectional feedback given both within and outside of performance
management assumes the existence of development plans and competency models to drive the
feedback process.
A coaching capability begins when skilled and willing individuals start coaching others.
Leaders coach their direct reports, who start coaching their team members and peers, thus
creating a cascading effect. Each successful coaching engagement contains the power to create
positive change extending beyond the coachee’s personal experience (Anderson & Anderson,
2005). This cascade represents a fundamental assumption of building a coaching organization
but stops short of automatically conferring a collective coaching capability onto an organization.
More work is required to embed this capability into the cultural norms.
Capacity
An organization progresses through multiple phases in its quest to build a well-managed
coaching organization (Hunt & Weintraub, 2007). In addition to identifying individuals with
coaching capabilities, organizations should also build coaching capacity by gauging the
willingness of leaders and managers to provide coaching to team members (Paris, 2019).
Without both ability and desire, an organization cannot have a coaching capacity; however, when
a collective willingness to provide coaching converges with the ability to coach, a coaching
capacity exists. Building a collective coaching capability without testing the capacity is difficult.
Evaluating coaching capacity reveals routines that already exist or need development or
improvement to support a strategic coaching initiative.
Coaching-friendly Context
Positive experiences with coaching contribute to an environment designed to nurture
coaching activity. Toxic company cultures, however, make for an unfriendly coaching
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environment. Hunt and Weintraub (2007) proposed that organizations with a coaching-friendly
context support coaching activity more effectively than non-friendly context and provided
insights on which factors in the organizational context support coaching activities. A more
favorable context increases the likelihood of a successful coaching initiative.
Hunt and Weintraub (2007) created the Coaching Organization Assessment Exercise
(COAE) to help decision-makers increase coaching readiness within their organizations and
utilize any existing coaching capacity. The COAE gauges a company’s coaching readiness in
four contexts: cultural, business strategy, human resource management, and positive
organizational experience with coaching.
2
Contextual factors indicating coaching readiness
include, but are not limited to: building and maintaining trust within healthy relationships,
viewing employees as ends in themselves rather than a means to an end, prioritizing individual
and organizational learning, seeking guidance when faced with a challenge versus the sink or
swim approach, transferring organization-specific knowledge via relationships, building a
diverse and innovative organization, helping individual workers to produce results through
effective management activity, performance management and appraisal, total quality
management (TQM) and continuous improvement (Hunt & Weintraub, 2007). This environment
is undergirded by trusting relationships, open communication, and peer-level collaboration.
Managers who provide meaningful, ongoing performance-related feedback to employees, and in
turn, solicit authentic feedback from employees represent one of many indicators of coaching-
friendly context. Co-workers have invested time into relationship and trust-building and treat
each other as full human beings, and not solely according to job-specific roles (i.e.,
customer/salesperson or patient/doctor roles) (Schein, 2017, pp. 173-174). A coaching-friendly
2
Please note, Hunt and Weintraub (2007) differentiate between cultural factors that contribute to a coaching-
friendly context and a fully implemented coaching culture.
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context supports team members’ willingness to coach others in settings not mandated by their job
descriptions.
Coaching Culture
Over the past two decades, research on coaching cultures has become more prominent
within business literature. Many articles focused attention on reasons to build a coaching culture
(i.e., the why), providing a definition of the construct and components of coaching cultures
(i.e., the what), and providing strategies to build a coaching culture within an organization
(i.e., the how). Hawkins (2012) proposed a coaching culture exists within an organization
when a coaching approach is a key aspect of how the leaders, managers, and staff engage and
develop all their people and engage their stakeholders, in ways that create increased individual,
team, and organizational performance and shared value for all stakeholders (p.21). In a
comprehensive literature review, Gormley and van Nieuwerburgh (2014) identified seven
common themes of coaching cultures and found organizations can use a developmental approach
to embed coaching within existing performance management and feedback processes to
improve performance, unlock individual and organizational potential, and to demonstrate a clear
commitment to individual growth (p. 93). Because coaching is now widespread, coaching
activity within organizations needs to be organized to measure its contribution to strategic goals.
Thus, coaching integration focuses on discovering and further embedding current coaching
activities into organizational culture.
Appreciative Inquiry
Because coaching skills have become a vital part of leadership communication culture,
coaching integration begins with the question, how does coaching show up in the organization
already? When organizations decide to align coaching operations with business needs,
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practitioners cannot afford to overlook unmeasured coaching activity. An organization’s context
contains insightful information that leaders can leverage to establish a coaching culture through
multiple phases of development. To see this information requires the use of appreciative inquiry
or AI. With roots in positive psychology, AI advocates a counterintuitive approach to
organizational inquiry and change by scanning the system for things for which to be grateful,
seeking out what is next and what is possible and placing emphasis on components worth
valuing, while increas[ing] the power, effectiveness, and sustainability of any classical OD
intervention (Stavros, Godwin, & Cooperrider, 2016, p. 97). Leaders can leverage collective
strengths within a coaching-friendly context to support a strategic initiative.
Coaching Integration Framework
Coaching culture can be understood as a final goal or ideal state of coaching activity
within an organization, but coaching integration is best conceptualized as a journey with
corresponding milestones. On each leg of the journey, coaching competencies and values
become more deeply rooted and intertwined into the deep structural patterns of the organization.
The path to coaching integration is not linear. The dimensions are fluid, as demonstrated in the
next section. Organizations may build in two or more degrees simultaneously (e.g., retooling to
provide internal coaching for managers while managing coaches through an existing employee
resource program). Initial degrees act as puzzle pieces leaders can aggregate at later stages to
compose a strategic coaching initiative.
Degrees of Coaching Integration
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Keeping with the idea of integration, Table 1 shows six degrees to which coaching is
embedded into and mobilized within an organization.
3
Organizational readiness for enterprise-
wide coaching increases as the degrees increase.
4
A high degree indicates coaching is:
deeply embedded into the company culture
available on multiple organizational levels
inclusive of many forms and modalities of coaching (i.e., executive, manager, and peer-
to-peer coaching is provided by internal and external coaching)
applied to various organizational situations (e.g., change coaching, performance
coaching, and coaching for well-being and engagement).
The opposite is true for the lower degrees of integration.
Some would argue in favor of the strategic coaching initiative being the highest level of
coaching integration; however, when coaching competencies are at the heart of an organization,
the organization has reached the highest level of embed. At that point, coaching has become a
part of the organizational members’ identity—it’s who they are, not just what they do. As
coaching becomes integrated into organizational life, leaders begin to demonstrate the heart of a
coach through spiritual grounding, helping followers to pursue their destiny, and to see them in
their best moments and at their worstand then believe in them (Stoltzfus, 2005, p. 52). At its
highest degree, organizational members coach so naturally it becomes part of the deep structural
patterns (i.e., DNA) and shows up in everyday conversations.
3
The researcher synthesized Table 1 while surveying academic and popular press literature and observing how
coaching appeared in the everyday business operations of several organizations.
4
Judging by coaching literature and researcher observation, a healthy number of firms appear to be concentrated
between degrees three and five. Once introduced to individual coaching at level one, the perceived outcomes of
workplace coaching engender a natural gravitation toward higher levels.
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Case Examples
If coaching culture is the end game, coaching integration represents the process. This
section will discuss the framework and illustrate each degree of coaching integration with a
relevant case example. The examples simply provide profiles of businesses along their journey.
There is no right or wrong stage, although remaining in the quasi-coaching stage is not
recommended. Organizations can exit the journey to building a complete coaching culture at any
milestone they choose, at which point the degree of coaching integration meets their current
business needs. The researcher used the framework to examine coaching integration in
organizations, according to three fundamental principles:
1. Level of embed assesses the degree to which coaching activity is infused into the
organizational context (e.g., leadership communication culture and management
operations)
2. Development activity integration evaluates the incorporation of coaching initiatives and
programs with, or alongside, existing talent and leadership development interventions
3. Business needs integration examines the strategic positioning of coaching operations
alongside and in conjunction with other developmental and performance-related activities
to address specific business needs, produce desired results, and deliver expected
outcomes.
A review of the following case examples presents snapshots of organizations at each point in the
coaching integration process.
Stage Zero: Quasi-coaching within a Government Contracting Company
At the quasi-coaching stage, organizations are exposed to coaching techniques but fail to
experience sustainable change. Consider a twenty-year-old, high-growth government contracting
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company. This family business initiated an ambitious growth strategy, including a series of
mergers over the next ten years. Established leaders will mentor emerging leaders, but the
organization has stopped short of using coaching in a meaningful way. For instance, the chief
executive hired a coach to fix behaviors displayed by a senior manager. Instead of taking a
developmental approach, the coach was hired to insert a degree of separation between the two
senior managers and deliver negative feedback about specific unproductive behaviors. Due to an
intent to immediately correct performance problems, the coaching was dead on arrival.
The unproductive coaching relationship experienced by such a high-profile leader placed
a stigma on coaching within the organization. Coaching was associated with performance fixes
and remedial learning instead of development and engagement. In response, organizational
members have developed negative associations with anything labeled coaching, even though
coaching activity occurs in an unofficial capacity. This company would likely score lower on the
positive organizational experiences with coaching subsection of the COAE. Stage zero coaching
can quickly turn into ground zero, which can stunt the growth of future coaching initiatives.
Before moving forward with coaching-related activities, this company would benefit
from educating senior leaders on the true purpose, essence, and motivation for coaching. At this
stage, it would be critical to identify a coaching champion within the organization who can
generate buy-in and commitment from the CEO, senior managers, and board of directors. The
challenge would be to integrate coaching with strategy and current development activities using
a strategic implementation plan. Despite its controversial nature, quasi-coaching provides a
salient takeaway. Team members can sense a lack of authenticity from an internal or external
coach, especially if they have experienced genuine coaching conversations in a different setting.
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Moreover, coaches cannot produce lasting individual-level change when a sponsor’s purpose is
to manipulate team members rather than facilitate their development and transformation.
Stage One: Individual Coaching at a Non-profit Education Company
Leaders with positive experiences in coaching can spontaneously coach individual
employees. The researcher conducted a training session for middle and top-tier managers of an
educational non-profit in the northeastern United States. This company adopted an innovative
approach to assist at-risk youth with college and career readiness in a ten-year programthe
longest of its kind. Following a wave of entry-level new hires (85% of whom were Millennials),
senior managers and program coordinators began experiencing challenges receiving ground-level
feedback from team members. Workshop sponsors indicated a desire to change the
communication culture, citing an abrupt shift from bottom-up strategic thinking sessions where
leaders welcome feedback to a top-down approach to implementation. During breakout sessions,
senior managers deployed group coaching skills, and participants demonstrated receptiveness to
their coaching. The senior managers’ coaching capability indicated prior experience with
coaching, making it easier to mobilize coaching skills throughout the organization. On the other
hand, an obscure authority and power dynamic caused mitigated speech patterns to surface
during group discussions. Given the ages and cultural backgrounds of the entry-level employees,
the speech patterns are likely in response to prior experiences with authority figures within their
respective cultures (Hofstede, Hofstede, & Minkov, 2010).
The next steps would include assessing employee perspectives to determine the level to
which their managers use coaching skills in their everyday interactions and using relevant tools
to evaluate the business strategy and context, including managers’ task-relationship orientation,
ability to engage team members through coaching-related activities, and their overall coaching
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capability. Sponsoring workshops to mobilize coaching skills among peers could bridge the gap
between group-level strategic thinking sessions and implementation. The culture club has begun
to develop practices for giving and receiving feedback considering the diversity of ages and
national cultures. For coaching to be most effective, managers would need to increase and
maintain trust by examining authority relationships and assess employees’ perceptions of and
responses to power dynamics.
Stage Two: An International Law Firm Pilots a Coaching Program for Learning and
Development
5
At later stages of integration, ongoing coaching occurs through programs designed to
support existing learning, development, and change-related objectives. Bianco-Mathis and
Schurgin (2014) explain steps taken by Seyfarth Shaw, an established international law firm, to
successfully implement a coaching program amid challenges presented by the legal matrix
structure. The coaching program was piloted within an inclusive culture championed by
founding partner Lee Shaw which included an open-door policy, first name interactions, and a
collaborative environment. This firm of more than 800 attorneys deployed an innovative
coaching program alongside existing learning and development initiatives to enhance the
company culture in response to shifting internal changes such as hiring more Millennial
attorneys. The development initiatives included mentoring, Lean Six Sigma certification,
competency models, multi-rater performance appraisals, and customer service initiatives.
Seyfarth partnered with a consulting firm that specializes in organizational coaching to assess
and train internal coaches. In addition to supporting an emerging learning culture, the program
5
It could be argued that the Seyfarth Shaw case represents the 3rd degree of coaching integration (developmental
coaching). The researcher placed it at a lower degree due to the published information demonstrating its level of
integration with other developmental programs, and the amount of evidence published concerning long-term effects.
ORGANIZATIONAL COACHING INTEGRATION
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demonstrated positive results and quantifiable improvements. This case shows the importance of
coaching-friendly factors in the organization’s context to support coaching initiatives. It also
illustrates how coaching can accompany and enhance other development initiatives.
Stage Three: Developmental Coaching at a Footwear Manufacturer in Central Europe
Organizations can repurpose existing programs, interventions, and tools to promote
employee and leader development. A study of two long-standing footwear manufacturing
companies located in Central Europe (Homola, 2013) illustrates the transformation of work-
related challenges into learning opportunities. During a three-month period, 550 production line
workers and their supervisors attended bi-weekly, two-hour coaching sessions in groups of up to
twenty participants. In groups of up to twenty, co-workers outlined their image of an ideal
employee and explained its significance. Then, group members discussed ideas to make their
work more enjoyable and generated consensus around one focus area for the following two
weeks. In between group sessions, coaches worked with line workers individually to take the
steps identified through action planning. Supervisors engaged in a similar process, adding their
commitment to support direct reports. As a result, line-worker productivity increased by over
twelve percent in fourteen months. Supervisors balanced positive and corrective feedback, which
resolved issues of arguing, buck-passing, and blame-throwing (Homola). Their direct reports
improved attitudes toward working extra hours to meet tight deadlines and virtually eliminated
absenteeism by discussing the impact of abusing sick days.
First, this case demonstrates that developmental coaching can transform organizations
when adequately structured. In this case, workgroups used open questioning to encourage
dialogue and feedback, identify root causes and solutions, and resolve ongoing conflicts on the
interpersonal and intergroup levels. These efforts ultimately resulted in improved productivity
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and work well-being. Second, it embodies the pre-and post-analysis method of isolating the
effects of coaching to measure its effectiveness. Performance is assessed before and after the
coaching intervention and then compared (Anderson & Anderson, 2005). Using a
control/comparison group and having participants evaluate the effects are two other isolation
strategies (P. P. Phillips, Phillips, & Edwards, 2012). Through group and individual coaching
sessions hosted at the beginning of the engagement, employees and supervisors aligned desired
outcomes to achieve main drivers of increased productivity (e.g., becoming better employees,
improving professionalism and teamwork, and making life easier for everyone).
Stage Four: Assessing Coaching Capability at a Manufacturing Company
A solid organization-wide coaching capability may go unnoticed without assessment;
however, measuring an organization’s coaching context can increase awareness and show leaders
how coaching capabilities can help achieve the organization’s strategic goals. The researcher
operationalized the COAE for a small, family-owned manufacturing company in the midwestern
United States. COAE results indicated employees already perceive their managers as great
coaches, and a coaching-friendly context exists in close-knit company culture. This knowledge is
helpful for future organizational development. For example, senior leaders are rolling out a five-
year succession planning and management strategy to increase bench strength and prepare for the
upcoming retirements of three key managers. The company’s president has created a key
competency assessment that senior managers will roll out within the next 12 months to identify
team members’ current competencies, and areas of improvement and advancement.
Instead of functioning as a stand-alone program, coaching will join the current mix of
leadership and talent development activities. Leaders are working to infuse coaching into the
succession planning process to support the operationalization of key competency models. The
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researcher prepared and presented a strategic development plan that identified strengths and
areas for improvement. When fully implemented, the coaching capability will help senior
management implement their succession planning and management strategy.
Stage Five: A Strategic Coaching Initiative and Executive Coaching at Whirlpool
Frodsham, Hunt, and Weintraub (2007) recounted the experience leaders created to
launch a coaching initiative at Whirlpool and connected the program to strategic business
outcomes. In 1996, then CEO David Whitwam initiated a strategic transformation to capitalize
on Whirlpool’s strength of operational excellence while increasing customer loyalty among its
global customer base. Business leaders had long been challenged by applying insights gleaned
from training to the immediate work context in real-time. Thus, Whirlpool understood training
would not be enough and made provisions to deploy an interrelated set of development activities.
Coaching was applied alongside other leadership development activities to drive strategic
change through transformational leadership and teach senior executives how to lead differently
than in the past (Frodsham et al., 2007, p. 100). Senior managers at Whirlpool simultaneously
embedded coaching-related practices into their daily interactions and the organization’s
infrastructure. By utilizing its proprietary Leading the Whirlpool Enterprise Leadership Model
(LWE) to articulate the human processes that lead to business outcomes, executives transferred
learning from the classroom setting to the job (Frodsham et al.). The key to success was linking a
global executive coaching program with executive classroom education to develop senior
leaders.
This coaching initiative was managed well and according to three overarching goals:
creating top-notch coaching experiences in all parts of the world, strategically embedding
developmental activities related to the LWE and organizational transformation initiative, and
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minimizing long-term dependence on executive coaching to support change while helping
executives to increase individual effectiveness to develop others (Frodsham et al., 2007). Other
success factors included Whirlpool’s cultural tradition of nurturing a coaching-friendly context,
integration of coaching goals with performance management practices, proper management of
geographic and time differences, the option to find funding within the business unit’s budget to
continue coaching, and the use of satisfaction surveys to gauge participant reactions. Whirlpool’s
example demonstrated the development of a strategic coaching initiative for leadership
development and organizational transformation within a coaching-friendly context.
Stage Six: Cultural Integration at International Personal Finance and Becton, Dickinson,
and Company
As evidenced in the stage five case example, a company’s strategic business needs define
the type of coaching culture that emerges. International Personal Finance (IPF) provides the first
Stage 6 example. IPF is an international home credit business based in the United Kingdom.
Under the guidance of Performance Consultants, the firm set a goal to create a performance-
centered coaching culture and embed the culture into the hierarchical management structure of
sales representatives within independent operating businesses across Europe and Latin America
(Culture at Work, n.d.; Performance Consultants, n.d.). IPF worked with a coaching and training
company on five objectives to establish a coaching culture:
1. developing the goals, diagnostic tools, and scope of requirements
2. launching the program and training the trainers
3. rolling out the program, enhancing skills, and integrating coaching into existing systems
4. engaging the organization through internal communications
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5. evaluating progress and overall performance of the program (Performance Consultants,
n.d.).
Coach training contributed to program sustainability by building global capacity, local
champions, and a common coaching definition, skillset and culture (Performance Consultants,
n.d.). Practitioners developed a blended learning program to embed and ensure proficiency in
the coaching style of training (Culture at Work, n.d.). Each market gathered success stories to
provide evidence on skill application and business impact, and managers conducted pilots to
measure ROI at various levels (Performance Consultants, n.d.).
Becton, Dickinson, and Company (BD), a global medical and technology company,
provides a supplementary example of peer-coaching as a Level 6 add-on. Because peer coaching
thrives when designed to support and enhance other constructive coaching practices (e.g.,
leadership and talent development), BD established coaching as a norm before rolling out their
peer coaching initiative (Toto, 2006). Peer coaching sessions explored topics within BD’s
leadership programs, including catalyzing change and development, emotional intelligence, and
influencing others. In addition to aligning with overarching business objectives, peer coaching
can extend beyond official coaching programs and perpetuate learning through follow-up
lunches, meetings, calls, or conferences, as needed (Toto).
According to Toto (2006), BD integrated the creation of a coaching culture into its
strategic objectives and delineated expectations for how their coaching culture would perform.
First, leaders modeled coaching as a productive and effective way to improve performance
(Toto). Leaders at all management levels received coaching, and in turn, agreed to coach and
develop others. Second, leaders established coaching as a cultural norm, thus making coaching
activity the chief responsibility of all leaders. Third, all employees benefitted from sharpening
ORGANIZATIONAL COACHING INTEGRATION
22
skills they could apply in their personal and professional lives. A peer coaching program carries
strategic advantages such as workforce development and building organizational capabilities,
and the presence of a coaching culture increased its chances of success (Toto). Additionally, a
well-organized peer coaching program can indicate the successful embedding of coaching values
into company culture (Toto).
Practical Application for Executives and Human Resources Directors
The Coaching Integration Framework helps leaders and specialists to visualize the
milestones and components involved in building a coaching initiative. Despite the ubiquitous
nature of coaching in the workplace, coaching initiatives should be strategic and well-managed
to support existing business needs. Thus, establishing and measuring the return on investment
(ROI) into coaching initiatives is paramount. ROI experts suggest the following perspectives.
First, measuring coaching ROI is a multi-step process with four levels of measurement that
precede the demonstration of financial ROI. Second, isolating the effects leads to more accurate,
non-inflated measurements. Third, the coaching program should be well-managed with proper
documentation and integration with human resources and development initiatives.
Both non-financial and blended methods will precede a full-fledged demonstration of
financial ROI. Thus, it is crucial to choose a framework that can grow with the initiative, such as
the Fifteen Situational Evaluation Strategies (Cady & Milz, 2016) or the Coaching ROI
Evaluation Framework (P. P. Phillips et al., 2012). Coaching cultures support significant
outcomes such as workplace reengagement, communication satisfaction, conflict resolution, and
change leadership. HR leaders can use coaching to support pre-existing programs and
organization development interventions to promote employee, manager, and leader development.
ORGANIZATIONAL COACHING INTEGRATION
23
When operating by clear cultural values (e.g., promoting from within), organizations can reap
considerable returns on investments into coaching.
Implications for Organization Development Consultants and Change Agents
The integration of coaching into organizational culture is best approached as an
organization development and change intervention. Moreover, Hamlin, Ellinger, and Beattie
(2009) indicated that coaching had been incorporated into human resource (HR) and organization
development (OD) processes as an intervention strategy since the 1950s (p.16). Organizational
leaders face resistance and cultural inertia when managing disruptive and continuous change.
Therefore, change agents mobilize coaches and their associated skills and competencies to
produce the levels of reengagement required for workers and managers to exceed basic job
requirements. As a non-digital technology, coaching provides a strategic advantage and increases
organizational learning.
6
The opportunity exists to help organizations without solid coaching cultures lay out a
plan to embed coaching activities into their daily norms. OD, HR, and change practitioners can
use several tools to measure the degree of organizational coaching integration, including the
Coaching Organization Assessment Exercise (Hunt & Weintraub, 2007), Coaching Culture
Inventory (Jenkins, 2018), and the Managerial Coaching Skills Assessment (O. A. David &
Matu, 2013). Practitioners should especially examine the likelihood of success before
implementing coaching programs in organizations with negative prior experiences.
Directions for Future Research
Future research should also explore the intersection of coaching and strategy and the
effect on distal organizational outcomes (i.e., performance and productivity). Conducting more
6
Daft (2013) defines technology as “work processes, techniques, machines and actions used to transform
organizational inputs (materials, information, ideas) into outputs (products and services) (p.263).
ORGANIZATIONAL COACHING INTEGRATION
24
experiments at each stage of coaching ROI would help leaders measure the impact of coaching
more effectively. Future studies would investigate correlations between degrees of coaching
integration and stages of ROI measurement (J. J. Phillips, Phillips, & Schell, 2015). Future
researchers can use the coaching integration model to create benchmarking data from
organizations with successful, strategic coaching initiatives. Comparative data would provide
prospective organizations with areas to target for improvement before rolling out a coaching
program. Researchers can attempt to distill and validate significant predictors of organizational
coaching initiative success to build a profile similar to the Organizational Culture Assessment
Instrument (OCAI) (Cameron & Quinn, 2011). The Coaching Integration Framework can also be
enhanced with concepts from the CMMI Maturity model (CMMI Institute, 2018). In summary,
future research should examine ways to operationalize and assess the construct of organizational
coaching integration according to its three major principles.
Conclusion
Coaching cultures are complex and embedding coaching norms into organizational
culture is a long-term process. Coaching integration centers on drawing out answers from the
company culture and reorienting coaching activity to accomplish business needs. This article
presented a framework for coaching integration and examined specific cases where leaders and
consultants deployed strategic coaching initiatives to pursue business goals.
ORGANIZATIONAL COACHING INTEGRATION
25
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31
Degree
Description
Characteristics
Zero
Quasi-coaching
Coaching techniques are used to correct performance issues, not to promote
growth and development
Used as an indirect form of reprimand; often treated as “remedial”
This definition has created a negative perception of coaching among some
professionals
Although organizations may call this coaching, the motivation is inconsistent
with foundational principles and the philosophy of coaching
1st
Individual Coaching
Focused on growth and development and organic, or ad-hoc, in nature
Individual(s) are coached by a manager or external coach
Not likely connected to organizational strategy
2nd
Coaching Programs
A coaching program is rolled out for a specific purpose for selected individuals
and groups
Individuals/groups work with external or internal coaches
May coincide with well-being and engagement programs
3rd
Developmental Coaching
Individuals are coached to achieve learning and development outcomes
May coincide with specific results like performance improvement
Involves human resources or talent management personnel
Coaching is evaluated as an OD intervention alongside other (leadership)
development activities
4th
Coaching Capability
Coaching skills and competencies are taught, modeled, and mobilized within the
organization
Coaching is available on various organizational levels
Training is also available for executives and managers
Potential to grow into a strategic initiative
32
5th
Strategic Coaching Initiative
Coaching has gotten the attention and support of executive leaders
Coaching is tied to business goals, and effectiveness is measured against KPIs
and other outcomes
The initiative is led and managed well (Hunt and Weintraub, 2007)
6th
Cultural Integration
Coaching is embedded in communication patterns and culture and treated as
more than just a skillset, conversation, or communication interaction
Coaching competencies drive behavior
Consistent integration into organizational life, deep structure, and
communication patterns
Dedicated human and financial resources in the budget (including coach training
and credentialing)
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
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Purpose: The primary aim of this paper is to conduct a thorough and systematic review of the empirical and practitioner research on executive, leadership and business coaching to assess the current empirical evidence for the effectiveness of coaching and the mechanisms underlying it. Background: Organisations are increasingly using business coaching as an intervention to improve the productivity and performance of their senior personnel. A consequence of this increased application is the demand for empirical data to understand the process by which it operates and its demonstrable efficacy in achieving pre-set goals. Method: This paper is a systematic review of the academic and practitioner literature pertaining to the effectiveness of business and executive coaching as a developmental intervention for organisations. It focuses on published articles, conference papers and theses that cover business, leadership or executive coaching within organisations over the last 10 years. Conclusions: The main findings show that coaching is an effective tool that benefits organisations and a number of underlying facets contribute to this effectiveness. However, there is deficiency and scope for further investigation in key aspects of the academic research and we identify several areas that need further research and practitioner attention. .
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