One way to create a coaching culture in your organization is to intentionally become a conversational partner with the people you lead.
I don’t mean making small talk about celebrity gossip or your favorite sports teams. I mean that good leaders and coaches are constantly expanding the horizons of others by introducing them to new ideas, stimulating their attention with stories, and engaging their creativity with thought-provoking discussions.
You may be thinking, “I don’t have time to stand around and talk to my employees all day long because I have a job to do, and for that matter, so do they!” Right, I get that, but there’s a way to do this without hurting productivity. In fact, I believe it’s an important way to sharpen the saw so that productivity stays high. CEO of Strategic Government Resources, Ron Holifield, is a master at doing this. I’ve watched Ron do this, and I’ve seen the impact that it has on our culture at SGR. Here’s what you can do:
Email links to your employees of interesting and innovative articles about your industry or area of expertise.
Leaders today have to be curators of great information. Ron is constantly finding great articles; and when he finds one that is relevant, he emails it to us. Sometimes it goes to the entire company. Sometimes it just goes to a smaller number of people to whom it relates specifically. As a result, it creates great dialogue (although sometimes brief) between him and employees about a particular concept. It becomes a part of the “library” of information at SGR. I’ve noticed, too, that it also causes other employees to do the same thing with each other.
There are some easy-to-use web tools that do much of the work for you. I use Scoop It, StumbleUpon, and Twitter to locate articles, blogs, and stories about leadership issues that interest me. I read them for my own benefit, and when I think that it relates to someone else, I share it. Other colleagues do the same thing. What’s the result? We are constantly engaging with a new concept, an innovative idea, or an inspirational story. It may not be coaching per se, but it creates a culture where people are open to learning, and that may be the most pressing need.
It sounds simple, but that’s the genius of it. We don’t have lengthy reports to fill out on each article or response forms on how it applies. We just talk about it. But if you believe that an organization becomes what it talks about—and I do!—then getting your people to talk about the right things may be the right place to start.