- Authentic connection between managers and employees is foundational for an effective coaching culture.
- Trust is an essential component of a successful coaching relationship.
- Three fundamental criteria to foster trust include laughter, humility, and curiosity.
- Genuine interest in the personal lives of employees strengthens professional relationships.
1. The Aha Moment: Personal Connections Matter
During a leadership coaching development program, a senior leader had a profound realization. Despite her advanced skills, she hadn’t connected personally with her team. She admitted, “I don’t even know the names of my employee’s kids!” This highlighted the overlooked fact that to coach someone effectively, one needs to know them beyond their professional role.
2. The Quest for a Genuine Coaching Culture
Many organizations aim to cultivate a coaching culture, where the coaching process is woven into daily operations. While investing in coaching training is essential, it’s a mistake to think that’s all it takes. To truly foster a coaching culture, we must first understand and cultivate the manager-employee relationship. At the heart of this relationship? Trust.
3. Trust: The Invisible Bond
Trust cannot be mandated or trained; it’s an emotion, an organic bond that grows over time. Research has identified three core criteria that signify the presence of a trusting relationship:
- Laughter – A shared moment of humor can dissolve barriers. Michael Kerr, president of Humor at Work, pointed out that individuals who can laugh, especially at themselves, seem more genuine to others. For instance, a CEO and her employee were able to solidify their coaching relationship when they laughed over the CEO’s unintentionally formal approach.
- Humility – Expressing vulnerability can be an asset. Sharing personal stories, emotions, or experiences – especially those showcasing imperfection – can help managers seem more relatable. One manager’s story about discovering a long-lost, rotten milk bottle in his car transformed his relationship with an employee who began to see him as a human being, not just a boss.
- Curiosity – A genuine interest in an employee’s personal life can be transformative. Simple questions about their weekend, family, or holiday plans can make a big difference. One manager’s curiosity led to a deeper understanding of an employee’s challenges, which in turn spurred an entire community effort to support the employee’s family.
4. Implementing the Blessing White Approach
The “Blessing White Approach” is not about a series of steps or guidelines. It’s about understanding the human element in every professional relationship. For organizations aspiring to have a thriving coaching culture, they must prioritize these genuine connections.
Laughter, humility, and curiosity are not just words but vital tools. They help reveal our shared human experiences, breaking down the barriers of strictly professional interactions.
5. Conclusion: More Than Just Coaching
In striving for a coaching culture, organizations must look beyond training programs and techniques. At the core of every coaching relationship is trust, built upon authentic human connection. By incorporating laughter, humility, and curiosity into their daily interactions, managers can lay the foundation for a trust-based coaching culture.
Only when this foundation is solid can an organization truly harness the full potential of a coaching culture. It is through these genuine connections, built one laugh, one shared story, and one question at a time, that organizations can capitalize on the countless coaching opportunities that present themselves daily.