Can coaching help ‘Contagion’ in the workplace? 

 ‘Contagion’ in the workplace

A recent ILM Study into workplace behaviour saw that 74% of workers studied admitted to ‘copying’ the behaviour of other people they had seen around the organisation. Contagion – it seems – is rife in the workplace, and this was proved to be both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ behaviours which were copied. Reasons for copying were interesting, from thinking it will help them to work better with others, to ‘get on’ in the company or to make themselves look good.  

Contagion: Culture is complex… 

Organisational culture is indistinct, difficult to describe but hugely powerful and in many companies I have worked with, leads to a set of behaviours which define the organisation. Again, these can be positive or negative.  

So often, we find people whose whole style and persona has been moulded by the experiences they have had, and which they then unhelpfully ‘dole out’ to others who think their way of doing things must be right: –  The manager who everybody avoids because they ooze negativity, which then inspires people to be negative back. The senior manager who has bred a culture of confrontation and blame which others can often ‘hide behind’. They all subtly infect others into thinking that’s the right way to do things, and this can ‘breed’ and build momentum.  

Train managers in coaching skills 

The ILM study concluded that formal training can mitigate against this informal ‘contagion’ by introducing people to the ‘right way’ to do things, and training managers in coaching skills in particular, can equip them with techniques to help others learn and develop in a more constructive way. Leaving them to their own devices can be hit or miss, and often the behaviour they choose to copy won’t be the positive or constructive way to deal with something. Effective coaching can help people think through the consequences of a particular course of action, and build their awareness of the impact of doing something. The Edinburgh Coaching Academy can help by providing high-quality bespoke training for your managers in coaching skills and the skills of having constructive conversations to mitigate against the negative side of contagion in the workplace.