Welcome to part 2 in my series
While there are many reasons for successful versus unsuccessful change initiatives, my experience and the HCI/ICF Research on Building a Coaching Culture for Change Management point to three critical factors: leadership commitment (engaged or absent?), employee capability (resilient or resistant?), and communication (effective or ineffective?) – and coaching impacts all three. The recently released research points to what successful companies are doing to build a coaching culture for change and dramatically improve the probability of success in their change initiatives.
Factor 1 – Leadership Commitment:
We often assume that by virtue of their position in the hierarchy, that “formal” leaders know how to lead change. While some companies may offer training in how to “manage change” or even fewer in the “role of the sponsor,” it’s rare that leaders at any level get developmental experiences specifically targeted to help them lead change (and if you’re reading this newsletter, you know that’s one of the gaps filled by the CQ System for Developing Change Intelligence!). Even if they do get some type of classroom training, leaders often struggle to know what to do on-the-job when-it-counts to motivate others to get on board with change, demonstrate their active involvement, and foster a change-ready culture. In the words of one Building a Coaching Culture for Change research participant, coaching is “a key element in leader development, and ensures consistent process toward change goals, as well as providing intervention to manage stress and change.”
Factor 2 – Employee Capability:
Similarly, we can assume that because people are bombarded with constant change, that they know what to do to cope with it and play their part. Again, the reality is often far different. Some organizations may provide training on resilience or agility or stress management, but such teachings are often hard to apply when a big, new, daunting change gets dropped in your lap. Conversely, as shared by another research participant, “coaching is a successful developmental process that is proven to accelerate the growth of key talent to meet organizational needs.” Through the coaching process, people can dialogue about what changes mean for them, their peers, and their teams. They can explore why changes are occurring, what specifically is and will happen, and how to take care of themselves and help their colleagues work through challenging times.
Factor 3 – Communications:
So often senior leaders have been planning changes for quite some time prior to rolling them out, and the resulting communications can feel one-size-fits all, focusing on benefits to the overall organization, and not customized to the needs and concerns of the wide variety of impacted stakeholders. The “recipients” of change-related communications can often seem resistant, because it’s their behaviors that needs to change most to make the change a reality, and they are often unprepared and ill-equipped. Two-way communications that enable both delivering messages “down” as well as relevant, actionable feedback “up” is sorely lacking in organizations today. As a third research participant insightfully remarked about the pivotal role of coaching: “it’s important to have somebody you trust who can help guide you and answer questions to ensure you are comfortable to accept and embrace change.” We know that the number one success factor in high performance teams (and high performance teams/organizations have a much higher probability of achieving ROI from their transformational initiatives) is psychological safety – and coaching fosters safe, trusting, and open communications and relationships.