Coaching culture has gained popularity as most organizations shift from a solitary focus to one centred around coaching. Investing in coaching is important but often comes with its challenges. One of the biggest challenges is that most training programs focus on imparting hard skills rather than soft skills that drive behaviour changes for sustained performance over the long term.

Coaching is an effective way to develop personnel, enhance performance, and foster continuous learning. However, building a coaching culture cannot be done overnight and requires commitment, intention, and practice.

Here are some ways in which organizations can build a coaching culture to mentor and develop leaders in the Middle East:

1. Define coaching goals and vision

Before embarking on this journey, companies must have a clear idea of the goals and vision of the coaching. Management must define the benefits of coaching for the people, the organization, and themselves. Additionally, being aware of how coaching will align with the organizational mission, strategy, and vision is important. An important component of building a coaching culture is the inclusion of senior leaders as significant changes need to start from the top.

2. Choose the appropriate type of coaching

Some coaching programs available in the market include career training, executive programs, group coaching, high-potential training, new manager coaching, and more. Companies must choose the appropriate training programs based on their goals and the desired results. Additionally, organizations must choose the right people to undergo the training to ensure the learnings are effectively implemented. Some other factors include organizational budget and the cost of implementing the learnings.

3. On-boarding personnel to build a coaching culture

Factors, such as how companies train their leaders, expectations of senior leaders, and performance management affect the investment and adoption of the learnings within the organization. Ensuring the coaching aligns with the existing organizational culture is important to maximize the benefits.

Senior management must demonstrate the changes they expect to see in their people and organizations. Modelling and creating expectations with a dedicated budget for ongoing coaching is crucial. While training programs can be defined and focused, on maximizing benefits, a long-term horizon and unlimited engagement are important.

4. Overcoming obstacles to build a coaching culture

Building a coaching culture for mentoring and developing leaders in the Middle East may be challenging but can be highly rewarding.

Here are some obstacles that may hamper building a coaching culture and how to overcome these:

4.1) Lack of support from senior leaders

Educating senior leaders on the advantages of a coaching culture and its impact on performance and engagement is important. Sharing case studies and success stories and training leaders to develop their leadership style can be effective in overcoming their lack of support.

4.2) Availability of limited resources

Companies can look for smaller initiatives to start the process and build it over a period. Senior leaders can identify ways to run a pilot and demonstrate its success before scaling the investments. Additionally, organizations are advised to make coaching a part of employee development and earmark a dedicated budget for building a coaching culture.

4.3) Resistance to changes

Often, people are resistant to changes and creating a safe and supportive environment to include coaching within the organizational culture may be effective. Ensuring people understand that training focuses on their development to achieve their goals and develop skills and is not a way to criticize their performance can overcome resistance to changes. Encouraging active listening without imposing ideas or solutions can also be effective.

4.4) Lack of skills

Most companies may lack the skills required to coach and train their people. Choosing an experienced service provider can benefit companies as training is imparted by expert coaches through formal programs and mentoring sessions. Additionally, such service providers offer ongoing support and feedback to ensure the learnings are sustained and effectively implemented over the long term.

Coaching is not a sporadic event but a constant and consistent practice. The learnings must be implemented in daily tasks and interactions to improve performance. Organizations are advised to include coaching as part of the performance management system to set goals and measure and track progress. Building a coaching culture with open-ended questions, active listening, and encouraging actions and reflection is beneficial. Finally, companies must celebrate their coaching culture by reinforcing its benefits, purpose, and values.