Driving a Coaching Culture

By Ruchi Sarin Sharma

As a part of a dynamic organization striving to make social impact, ensuring we have motivated, engaged and strong managers is essential to our success, especially when sustainable change can take years to achieve.  

We all know that investing in human capital is the only way, but we often struggle to address the needs of our multigenerational workforce.  While we may explore and implement best practices from other sectors that seem relevant to us and buttress the organisation with all the required processes, structures, policies and clearly articulated employee value proposition – there is an opportunity we may be overlooking to further promote that ‘great place to work’.

Before we delve into the opportunity, let’s look at the challenges that the Human Resources, Talent Management or Human Capital work streams all seem to have experienced from our talented workforce:

  • I’ve now been with the organisation for 4 months and while my role has allowed me to make an impact, I need more learning opportunities and want to know what’s next for me.  
  • I see that we’ve appointed a leader who I will be reporting to – how does that impact my ability to move up in the organisation and what will it take for me to get to that leadership position?
  • Because I’ve been in the organisation since inception and as I am committed to being here, shouldn’t the organization recognize and reward me and outline a certain career path given my tenure?

The common thread across all these statements is around career progression and development – the on-going and consistent challenge across most organisations in the development sector. Does the answer lie in developing more cross-functional learning opportunities, launching structured secondments, devising rotational programs to create more defined career planning?  Do we need to develop robust learning and development programs?

In most cases – it is often difficult to plan the career path in our sector as we continue to face disruption,  are driven by mandates of our stakeholders such as donors and are required to be extremely nimble and adept in changing direction, re-positioning strategies, and trying out alternative approaches. All these and other factors make it difficult to commit to a career path that we may have envisioned and could have initially offered. So what can we do to ensure we retain our key performers and high potential individuals and keep them engaged in a sector that is already facing the challenge of securing top talent?

It’s clear that we need to be smart about capacity building within our organisations.  Driving a coaching culture within an organisation is essential to tackle the challenges we face within Human Capital.  

If we equip our managers with coaching fundamentals – we will enable an environment where there is ownership from our talent on driving their own career path, identifying the skills they want to acquire and develop solutions on how to achieve the same. This means individuals within the organisation would play a central role in facilitating their own learning, growth paths and create structures to serve as catalysts for such goal achievement, rather than expecting the organisation alone to provide solutions.


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