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Building a Coaching Culture for Change Management

This recently released study, by the ICF and HCI reveals that,

coaching, whether one-on-one coaching, team coaching or work group coaching with a professional coach, are rated as the most helpful in achieving the goals of change management initiatives.

Given that I work in both the coaching and change management spaces, I thought it a good idea to take a look at this study and understand its implications for my clients.

In the turmoil of our current context I think we have all experienced change happen ‘to’ us;

  • The rocky Rand exchange rate of the last month saw Netflix even stop accepting my paypal payment because of the constant fluctuations
  • The rocketing diesel price makes my so-called economical diesel vehicle no longer economical
  • Brexit means that my UK passport is no longer a gateway to Europe
  • Head masters departing at both my sons’ primary and high school opens up the opportunity for change and uncertainty
  • A friend had to rewrite a taxing legal exam because the paper was leaked…

I’m sure most of you are aware of Covey’s model of the circle of influence, or ‘controllables and the uncontrollables’ as I prefer to call them.

What is evident and confirmed by the research is the minute we experience change as something that is happening ‘to us’, we are resistant to the change.

So often I have seen executives at the top of the organisation given time to assimilate changes, and then when they launch them on staff, they wonder why there is pushback?

What is seemingly ‘minor’ and ‘no big deal’ to those at the top of the organisation may have devastating impact to those lower down, whether perceived or real.

And what the study reveals is that coaching, whether one-on-one or team coaching, is rated as the most helpful in achieving the goal of change management initiatives. Now this should come as no surprise to those of you who support the case for coaching. But for those who may be unsure of how that translates, here are some of my ideas for why I think the two are complimentary;

  • Coaching by default never assumes. It doesn’t make pre-judgements about how you will react or not react to a given context. It simply hears what is.
  • The coaching space is curious and seeks to enquire and understand the nature of change and its impact on you. It is often a space in which clients articulate for the first time how they actually feel about a change and acknowledge its impact. I had a client recently who said to me “this is the first time I’ve said this out loud”. It provides a space for often subconscious thinking to be verbalised.

The coaching space is one that hears, through high quality listening. It does not interrupt thinking, nor does it enforce change. It simply keeps step with the client’s pace and gently guides chaos into creativity.

I recently conducted change workshops for a company who were anticipating  relocation. The workshops were deceptively simple, talking just about concerns and opportunities. But the mere space to allow personal reaction to the change and to be heard at even the lowest level, went some way to minimising the resistance that quickly results when change seems beyond one’s control.

It shouldn’t stop there but coaching should continue right up to and during the change itself (in this case, the office move) to ensure that staff continue to surface concerns and recognise opportunities to make the transition a celebratory, rather than stressful one.


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