Up to this point, we’ve helped you better understand coaching culture, walked through key principles and first steps, looked at approaches and strategies, discussed the importance of measuring ROI and establishing sustainability for your programme. As we start to wrap up this series, I’ll be sharing examples of excellence. I hope these will provide practical ideas on how to create your own strategy for developing a coaching culture in your organisation.

Let’s start by looking at a global award that recognises excellence in the use of coaching within organisations as well as some characteristics of high-performing organisations.

The International Prism Award

Since 2005, the International Coach Federation’s (ICF) International Prism Award programme has honoured businesses and organisations with coaching programmes that fulfil rigorous professional standards, address key strategic goals, shape organisational culture, and yield discernible and measurable positive impacts.

ICF based its award criteria on findings from its research with the Human Capital Institute (HCI). You can review these findings and how ICF and HCI define characteristics of a strong coaching culture in our First Steps article.

Here is an overview of the scoring criteria for the award, which will give you some great inputs to the kind of activities and standards that you can be aiming for when fully leveraging coaching at an organisational level. This framework will provide you with a valuable benchmark that will most certainly help give shape and direction for your ongoing coaching culture work, regardless of whether or not you choose to apply for an award.

Scoring Criteria

ICF uses four scoring criteria for the International Prism Award against which judges assign scores for each one on a scale of 1–5. Let’s take a closer at each one.


The Impact criteria refers to any observable and measurable details that underscore the value, influence or effectiveness of coaching. When examining impact, think about the methods your organisation uses to evaluate the effectiveness of coaching. These could include:

  • Absenteeism rates
  • Coaching recipients’ satisfaction
  • Employee engagement scores
  • Feedback from coaches
  • Performance appraisals
  • Return on expectations (ROE) for coaching recipients
  • Return on expectations (ROE) for the organisation
  • Return on investment (ROI)

Now, what are examples of observable and measurable details that underscore the value, influence or effectiveness of coaching in your organisation? These could include:

  • Integration of coaching, measured by the number of employees/proportion of workforce receiving coaching
  • Positive testimonials provided by employees who have received coaching. Ideally, these testimonials demonstrate the breadth and/or depth of the coaching initiative
  • Employee indicators that validate increased levels of workplace engagement and well-being (e.g., decreased stress, increased resilience, goal attainment)
  • Return on expectations (ROE) measurements provided for non-monetary employee/organizational goals that were identified before the coaching initiative was implemented
  • Return on investment (ROI) measurements calculated for areas that emphasized financial business outcomes or for any impacted goal areas that can be converted to a monetary value


Standards refers to examples of how coaching in the organisation was developed and implemented in a way that would highlight a commitment to rigorous professional standards, industry excellence or best practices within organisational coaching.

One thing to consider is what type of coach training is provided, if any, for internal coach practitioners and managers/leaders using coaching skills. The strong recommendation is that internal coaches and managers and leaders using coaching skills receive some form of accredited coach-specific training. ICF provides a listing of all accredited programs, and some organisations even develop and offer their own ICF-accredited program for their coaches and managers/leaders.

Here are some other things to consider:

  • Have individuals offering coach-specific training to employees have graduated from an approved or accredited coach training programme?
  • Does your organisation use external or internal coaches who hold an ICF Credential?
  • Have coaches have been offered mentor coaching and/or coaching supervision?
  • Has the ICF Code of Ethics been identified as a resource in coaching agreement with the organisation? In particular, has confidentiality been preserved in coaching conversations?
  • Is your organisation using an evidence-based approach, adopted through coach training and/or delivery of coaching?


The Strategy criteria looks at how organisational goals, strategic priorities and workplace needs are being addressed through coaching. Examples could include, but not be limited to:

  • Coaching aligns with organisational mission, vision, core values or behaviours
  • Coaching can be mapped clearly to current organisational goals/objectives
  • Coaching is supported by dedicated allocation of human and/or financial resources
  • Coaching has proven to be adaptable/has evolved to serve fast-emerging employee/organisational needs
  • Coaching has become a fundamental element to the organisation’s team-building processes

Here are some key things to think about when examining the strategy of your coaching programme:

  • Do all employees in the organisation have equal opportunity to receive coaching from a professional coach practitioner?
  • To whom is coaching offered? Entry-level employees Mid-level employees Senior-level employees High potentials All age groups Remote/virtual employees
  • Which of the following factors most impacted the organisation’s decision to offer coaching? Improve communication skills Improve decision-making Improve teamwork Increase employee engagement Increase productivity Leadership development strategy
  • If the organisation uses internal coach practitioners, what is the average percentage of weekly time that they spend on coaching?
  • If the organisation uses managers/leaders using coaching skills, what is the average percentage of weekly time that they spend using coaching knowledge, skills and approaches with their subordinates?
  • Sustainability

Sustainability refers to how coaching is embedded into the fabric of the organisation, as well as examples of any plans to develop/expand coaching further. Budgeting for coaching in your organisation is key to making your programme sustainable and creating a true coaching culture.

Examples could include, but not be limited to:

  • Organisation has coaching champions/advocates in senior leadership position who can communicate the coaching strategy effectively
  • Coaching has become positioned as a preferred solution when compared to other modalities
  • Coaching is used as modality in forward-thinking areas (e.g., talent management, succession planning, employee development)
  • Coaching shows long-term resilience in organisational infrastructure/operating budget
  • Organisational leadership styles have changed positively resulting from the coaching

High-performing Organisations

Some of the items contained within these criteria can provide great input to the development of your coaching culture strategy and its associated measurement system. In addition, the Human Capital Institute (HCI) has developed the following index of talent and organisational outcomes that may be useful to you.

Talent Outcomes:

  • Investments in training
  • Internal mobility
  • Employee engagement
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Quality of hire
  • Retention
  • Leadership bench strength

Organizational Outcomes:

  • Large-scale strategic change
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Talent attraction
  • Innovation
  • Profitability
  • Shareholder value
  • Labour productivity

In HCI’s Building a Coaching Culture for Change Management research with ICF, the above index was used to evaluate the relative strength and weakness of respondents’ organisations. Based on this evaluation, 31% of those organisations surveyed were considered high-performing organisations (HPOs). According to the research findings, organisations with a strong coaching culture were more than twice as likely to be high-performing organisations. How could you use this index to help inform how you embed coaching within your organisation?

I hope these criteria are valuable as you continue to build your organisation’s coaching culture strategy. Next, I will share examples from case studies of organisations who have put many of the things I have outlined in this series into practice. I want to help you bring coaching into your organisation in a way that truly makes a positive difference and is done by developing a strategy that is just right for you, your people and your organisation. Sign up to get this entire series directly to your inbox.

Hilary Oliver, MCC

Hilary Oliver is a Master Certified Coach (MCC) with the International Coaching Federation (ICF). She is also a trained Coaching Supervisor and Mentor Coach. Hilary trains coaches and works with managers and leaders to develop their coaching capability. She works as an International Corporate Executive and Board Level Coach, a leadership development designer and facilitator working with a wide range of organisations. Hilary also specialises in working with organisations to support them develop coaching culture. She has been the President of the UK ICF Chapter and is a Past Chair of the ICF Global Board.

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