How to Create a Coaching Culture at Work [Success Story]

coaching culture at work

A coaching culture at work develops leaders and managers at all levels of the organisation.  And that was the important thing for the organisation I am going to talk about in this post.

In 2008, Mark McKergow, the Director of sfwork – The Centre for Solutions Focus at Work, invited me to be the Programme Director for a ‘Solutions Focus Coaching for Leaders Programme’ for an NHS Trust. The Trust recognised that a key role of its senior leaders was to support and develop levels of management and leadership at all levels.  So they wanted a programme that would help create a coaching culture at work. I was privileged to deliver the programme for thirteen groups of managers, nearly 200 managers in total.

What the Programme involved


The programme used the Solutions Focus (SF) coaching model, OSKAR – a valuable way to introduce coaching to groups of managers as it provides them with a set of tools they can use rather than a prescribed process. This gives the attendees the flexibility to use the tools in many different circumstances and in short periods of time rather than waiting for an illusory ‘serious coaching session’ which never arrives.

Workshop followed by coaching

The programme consisted of a two-day “Solutions Focus Coaching for Leaders” workshop to introduce managers to the OSKAR model.  After the workshop, the managers began using coaching in their roles. They came back together for two review workshops to discuss how they could apply the tools and techniques to specific management challenges, such as managing performance, developing teams etc. They also received six months of individual support from an external coach to help their own development.

Coaching Culture at Work

Benefits to employees

Managers reported, “significant benefits” to employees.  They said they “spent less time talking about problems and why it’s not fair.” Instead, they used their new-found coaching skills to get employees to think for themselves and to recognise the skills and knowledge they had to move forward. There had been “an observable decrease in anxiety and a noticeable positive impact on ability and action, a can-do attitude.  And there had been clear recognition that small steps help create progress.”

Benefits to managers

Managers found they started to use the skills on themselves in a form of self-coaching so they too found their own solutions to problems with positive results.  All of these developments helped increase their confidence and helped them feel more in control.  This led them to feel less stressed and be more efficient and effective. As more managers completed the programme they saw the positive effects rippling through the organisation. These benefits included:

A reduction in negativity

A more positive culture

Team members empowered and energised, giving everyone more time

Staff becoming more self-reliant and less dependent

People feeling more positive and enjoying work, therefore being more proactive and productive

Greater progress being made, things moving forward

Improved relationships

More frequent celebration of progress

More action, less discussion

Like many organisations, this Health Trust was going through tough and challenging times.  Solution-focused coaching wasn’t a silver bullet but it helped them to create a more positive coaching culture at work and allowed them to make progress in a number of challenging situations.


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