The human side of change management

I met up with two of my Associate Coaches yesterday to share recent coaching learnings and discuss a few opportunities in the pipeline that might enable us to work together. We spent a lot of time talking about the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world in which we now all live and work. It’s clear that the speed of technological advancement in the workplace is driving the pace of change in all spheres. The only remaining certainty is that change is now constant!

One of my colleagues has spent much of her career as a Change Specialist, particularly in the technology industry. She pointed out that many Transformation Project Managers focus on the process side of Change, often with the support of very highly paid management consultants. Yet little time can be spent exploring how best to engage the workforce for change, by looking at what it means from a human perspective.

We identified three potential areas where coaching can help drive a successful transformation project.

Firstly, coaching the project team ‘cockpit’ will ensure it quickly becomes and remains a high-performing team throughout the process: a team based on high levels of trust and collaboration, that maintains a single voice and holds each member to account.

By their very nature, Projects for Change can be incredibly challenging – the management team is often put together at speed, involving talented individuals from different functions that might not have even met before, let alone worked together. Team members may need to juggle between conflicting demands and constant self-questioning, that require both courage and resilience. How do I establish effective ways of working with brand new colleagues? Is everyone working to the same agenda? Should my primary loyalty lie with my function or with this new team? How long will this project take – and what next for me? What are my ‘old’ colleagues thinking about my new role: encouragement? jealousy? suspicion? How do I maintain a work/life balance when I’ve got just ridiculous amounts of work to get done?

Secondly, 1:1 coaching develops effective senior leaders within the business that will support the cockpit team on the change project and role-model the behaviours required across the business for the change implementation to succeed. Executive coaching allows senior leaders the time and safe space to think through not only the strategic challenges they are facing, but also how they can best empower their people to achieve beyond expectations.

Finally, group coaching line managers to ‘lead through coaching’ can be a crucial element to persuade, influence and engage all staff through the change process. Teaching key line managers core coaching skills, not only sets them up for success in the short term, it also creates a cross-functional support network of future leaders, driving strong co-operation across the business and helping to embed a systemic coaching culture within the organisation.

If you’d like to find out more about how coaching can help change management to be truly successful, please get in touch!

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