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Home » Blog » Coaching Through Change- Managing the Flow

Change practitioners wear many hats and so today, even change facilitators must adapt to manage the various uncertainties that crop up over time. Although change affects us individually as well, this blog will talk about managing change in the organisational sphere. The world is changing fast, and no successful organization can stand still for long. New products, new services, and new ways of working mean that many of us are continually learning new skills, and adapting to changes in the workplace. One of the key measures of success in change management is that you’ve managed to get support from all of the people affected by a change. With this support, you can implement changes smoothly, and with less disruption. However, despite best efforts, obtaining support might be difficult. Many people will feel that change is happening to them, rather than feeling that they are a valuable part of the future of the organization. And people who benefit from the status quo will quite rightly recognize that they may lose out as a result of the change.

In such a scenario, coaching can help ride through murky waters with clarity in action. Coaching can:

  • Encourage people to see change as an opportunity rather than a threat.
  • Help people understand and embrace change.
  • Build a stronger and more communicative team, where everyone knows their role and their value to the organization.
  • Identify training needs and develop talent.
  • Prevent negative perceptions of change from getting out of control and spreading across a team.

As an organization adapts to a new approach to business, its people also need to adapt. Some people have a hard time doing this, and coaching can help them develop a complete understanding of what’s happening, and why.

Perceptions of Change

Change in an organization can be incremental (minor) or transformational (major). An incremental change could include resetting performance expectations and goals to remain competitive or changing the way sales calls are handled. A transformational change could include investing in a new business, restructuring departments within the organization, or selling off a part of the business.

The extent to which people feel threatened – or excited – is not always connected to the size of the change, but rather to how they feel affected by it. For example, if your organization is expanding, some people will support the change because they see opportunities for advancement or for a more varied work life. Others might not like the idea of working in a bigger team, or they might feel threatened by new people joining the organization.

The different stages of change will also affect how people react. For example, some people will cope well in the first stages of change, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll accept it in the long run. Likewise, people who find change difficult to begin with won’t necessarily adapt badly to change in later stages.

Tips for Coaching Through Change-

  • Don’t get frustrated if you already agree with the change, and the person you’re coaching doesn’t “get it” straight away.
  • Take time to understand why people feel the way they do. Don’t rush this – some people may not want to talk about their feelings at work. Others may be confused about their many emotions. As a coach, you’ll need to take an individual approach.
  • Make sure that the person you’re coaching knows why you are doing it.
  • Explain why the organization is changing, and the benefits of the change. You must explain this from everyone’s perspective, including those whose jobs might be at risk. People must understand how the future will look and how this will affect them. Then focus on how the person’s goals fit with the organization’s goals following the change.
  • Remember the “coaching toolkit” of questioning, active listening, and value-added summarizing.

Today, the International Coaching Federation also has doubled down upon emphasising the importance of coaching in helping teams through the seas of change. New ICF research conducted in collaboration with the Human Capital Institute (HCI) demonstrated the vital role coaching can play in ensuring the success of an organization’s change management initiatives. Building a Coaching Culture for Change Management is the latest edition of ICF and HCI’s signature research suite on coaching in organizations. The research report is based on more than 400 survey responses from managers, leaders, internal coach practitioners, and individual contributors, as well as in-depth interviews with five subject-matter experts.

The research reveals that coaching is one of the most helpful ways to develop change management capabilities inside an organization. The most frequently cited learning and development activities for change management are classroom training, e-learning, and face time with senior leaders. However, respondents rated coaching activities as the most helpful in achieving the goals of change management initiatives.

Fifteen percent of respondents’ organizations met ICF and HCI’s criteria for strong coaching cultures. Further, the research demonstrated that these organizations were more likely to have better talent and business outcomes than organizations without strong coaching cultures.

In the synopsis, we must not lose sight of the fact that at its heart change management is effectively about collaboration. Remember, it’s not your duty as a coach to force change through – you need to identify what stands in the way of people accepting change, then use coaching to help people overcome those barriers.