Three steps to develop effective change management coaching

Develop effective change management coaching

In my last article I looked at the four ways to maintain the momentum of cultural change within your organisation. An integral part of effective change management throughout the process of change is to continually reinforce the need for change and the vision of the future. This is achieved not only by having a comprehensive communication plan in place, but also by investing in effective change management coaching.

The aim of coaching in the change management context

Change management coaching is often approached poorly. Senior management and change leaders rely on the acceptance of the goals of organisational change to provide the drivers for effective coaching. Having communicated the need for change and the vision of the future to managers and supervisors, the biggest mistake is to think that this is enough to maintain the momentum of change.

The aim of a good change management coaching should be three-fold:

  • First, to empower effective sponsorship from the top down
  • Second, to support both managers and employees through the change program
  • Third, to support both managers and employees once the change program has been fully adopted

The importance of change management coaching

Coaching through a program of change satisfies several objectives. It can, of course be used to communicate the need for change, and to train people in new processes and procedures. The biggest benefit to change management, though, is the effectiveness of targeted coaching in managing and eliminating resistance to change.

Having identified and ‘employed’ your change sponsors, the influence they are able to exert on their peers and employee groups down the line is more than considerable. The most successful change programs are those that have benefitted from active sponsorship from the very top. When taking on almost impossible challenges requiring total organisational and cultural change, change management legends such as Jack Welch at GE and Lou Gerstner at IBM lived, breathed, ate, and slept their change programs.

Managers further down the line have a similar effect on their people. Without coaching through the change, however, the message of change and its need and long term benefits to all is likely to be miscommunicated and lose its effectiveness.

What is change management coaching?

Change management coaching is not simply an opportunity to enforce, but should be seen as a forum for the gathering of feedback and voicing of concerns. The coach can learn as much as the student from these sessions; all useful information which can be used to shape the future and identify potential resistance before it happens.

Coaching allows new procedures and processes to be discovered, discussed, and even improved upon. Whether coaching is provided in group events or in one-to-one sessions, it should provide encouragement and reasons for the change to be immersed into a new culture. It also solidifies two-way trust between managers and employees.

Develop your change management coaching plan

When considering the needs of a coaching plan, your change management team should take the needs of all stakeholders into account. Change managers need to be coached in the change, coached to coach the change, and then given the opportunity to coach their people. Only when these basics have been planned and achieved will ‘down-the-line’ coaching become truly effective. With this in mind, there are three steps to take when developing effective change management coaching.

1 Empower managers as change management coaches

The change management program must first be delivered to project sponsors and managers. This coaching is often executed by external specialists who have been employed to aid the change project through to completion. Important deliverables here will include:

  • Identifying the supervisor’s role in change management
  • Providing guidance on manager/ employee communications
  • Providing guidance on group coaching
  • Effective one-to-one coaching
  • Setting expectations and developing timetables and schedules for coaching through change programs

2 Develop group coaching events

Having been coached themselves, managers and supervisors should meet to develop plans for group coaching events, ensuring that key messages are communicated effectively. Feedback should be actively sought, with group training periods used to break down resistance to change with open discussion and exchange of information. They can also be used to spot key influencers who will help to grow positive support for the change initiative.

3 Develop coaching for individuals

One-to-one sessions will be needed by employees with specific tasks or issues. These can be tailored to individual concerns as well as best-fit coaching. They help with tackling highly resistant employees by addressing their concerns individually and reinforcing self-interests of change.

When developing one-to-one coaching sessions, the manager will need to consider direct effects of cultural change on the employee, where they are on the change progress curve, and to what method of coaching the individual best reacts. It is then possible to help employees move more quickly through to full acceptance of the change.

The bottom line

Effective change management is not achieved by enforcing change but by coaching people through it.

Effective coaching will increase enthusiasm for change, tackle potential resistance early in the change process, and help identify internal influencers of change. This process begins with coaching the coaches, and ensuring that sponsors, managers, and supervisors have been prepared to coach down the line. Effective change management coaching requires a top down, whole of organisation approach in order to reinforce change on willing participants and not enforce change on a resistant workforce.

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Maintain the Momentum of Cultural Change within Your Organisation

Many of my clients tell me the same story when we first sit down to discuss their situation. Though each circumstance varies by large degrees and requires tailored strategies to reach their targeted goals, the overriding message when we first sit down is a need for cultural change. It may be that the organisation I’m working with doesn’t immediately realise this is its need: a ‘simple’ change of systems or procedures often masks the underlying requirement.

A common obstacle to effective change is business itself. Senior executives have board meetings, conventions, trade events, shareholder meetings, and daily strategy to attend to. Frontline managers have the rigours of operations to manage. Given these circumstances, it’s no wonder that organisational change often veers off its course or grinds to a halt altogether.

To avoid your organisational change failing, take a leaf out of the Boy Scouts Manual and ‘Be Prepared’.

Effective change management in busy organisations

Busy organisations stay so because they embrace change. They don’t fob it off or rest on their laurels. They meet market influences and changing customer profiles head on. When companies change continually, they find cultural change is accepted as a natural part of their business strategy. It becomes a force for increasing profits as people look for efficiencies and better ways of doing things, sharing successes and enabling roll-out across the organisation.

If there is one thing that is predictable in a busy organisation, it is that it will remain busy. With this as a backdrop, preparing for cultural change is as important as executing it.

How to prepare for cultural change

Without fail, and no matter what the goals of change are, there are four ways in which your organisation can be better prepared for cultural change.

1 Work on the change before announcing it

Never go into changing culture without thinking about how the process of how change will work. Think about what and who will be affected, and plan for how to tackle the rollout of change. You’ll need to remain fluid, and react to resistance, but the first few activities of change can be planned and announced when the change program is announced. This will show your people that the organisational change has been fully considered and their professional welfare is a top priority.

2 Get your change management team together early

Having identified those stakeholders who are likely to be most affected, you will be in a strong position to identify those managers and other stakeholders who will form your change management team. Involve these in the planning stages of organisational change and delegate ownership. Ensure the team are working together toward the common goal, and try to build in flexibility to enable fluid change programming.

3 Empower your stakeholders

When your people are involved in the change, and allowed to provide feedback – with such feedback taken seriously – you’ll find that enthusiasm for change spreads rapidly. This is one of the most effective weapons in the fight against resistance to change. Enforced change engenders resistance, collaborative change engenders enthusiastic acceptance.

4 Communicate constantly for effective change

One of the most effective tools in the change leader’s toolbox is the art of communication. It is no longer viable to use only traditional methods –­ the staff noticeboard for example – but must be focused and diverse.

Focus communications on those who need it: for example the engineering department, back office, sales, etc.

Use appropriate methods of communication, and simultaneously use effective methods. Team meetings, with discussion encouraged, can be combined with intranet offerings, brainstorming sessions, planned training events, and one-on-one coaching sessions. Make the water cooler your friend by posting latest news nearby: damaging rumours will be replaced by positive fact.

Your first step toward effective cultural change

Cultural change doesn’t just happen. It requires a planned approach with executives, managers, and supervisors leading the charge. Given this understanding, and the requirement for employees and all stakeholders of the change program to be active participants, the first step to creating a momentum of cultural change that will be maintained throughout (no matter how busy the organisation or key individuals become) is to invest in effective coaching.

In my next article, I’ll look at the three steps to develop effective change management coaching.

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Change management, innovation, leadership

As you can imagine, I spend a fair amount of time keeping up with changes and challenges faced by industry and business in the fields of change management and innovation. So I’m constantly on the lookout for information and news that may impact behaviour and best practice across organisations.

Here’s a pick of what I’ve been attracted to this week:

Change Management

Daniel Lock is an expert in change management and productivity. I love his weekly posts on the latest news in change management, HR and technology. Every week Daniel collects a series of great links to big news on how …

Jason’s latest book – Lean Change Management – tackles just that topic: how do you cope with and drive change that is meaningful and has a real impact? In it Jason tells a crazy and personal story of how one company went …

More specifically, I would take a mediocre software solution with excellent change management long before I would consider an awesome software solution with a mediocre focus on the people aspects of a project.

Learning never stops. Leaders aren’t born. They grow. Three little pearls of wisdom for today. I am undertaking an MBA elective in Leadership and Change Management via the University of South Australia, a uni I have loved …

Business Cloud News is an industry leading source of news, analysis and feature content focused on the cloud computing sector and enterprise IT globally. … Unfortunately, the historical complexity of ECM solutions has made consistent enterprise adoption expensive and difficult, requiring costly professional services and extensive training and change management. A renewed focus on end user experience has resulted in products that help enterprises overcome …

… of its radio … “Tait’s emphasis on a comprehensive implementation and support plan, incorporating deployment, migration, risk management, change management and project management were all key factors in securing the contract,” …

Innovation News

Now in its fourth edition, the Intrapreneurship Conference (December 10-12, The Netherlands) again brings together intrapreneurs, experts and innovation managers, to share what’s working today and new ideas for tomorrow …

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2015 Small Business Innovation Awards, which recognizes a Michigan small business for an outstanding innovative product or service. To be eligible for an innovation award, the …

October 7, 2014 – An announcement has been made on Australia’s new research, development and marketing funding company – to be known as Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited (HIAL). Federal Agriculture Minister …

The day consists of three key events including an “Aussies Innovate in LA” panel discussion and a food, wine and business showcase held at the Australian Consul-General’s residence in Brentwood. The event will conclude …

The Australian government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda and the announcement of five industry growth centers released today has been welcomed by trade group Medicines Australia’s chairman Martin …

Where My Words Have Travelled

publish around the place from time to time. Here’s the latest:

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are the subject of a lot debate in the blogosphere. Will they be a disruptive technology for universities? Will they take over the trainer’s job in corporate organizations?

From a higher education perspective, it’s easy to see the selling point for students

In 1987 Paul O’Neill became the CEO of Alcoa. Taking over the helm of a company usually means making grand statements about finances, about cutting costs, and change the investment priorities. But what O’Neill did at his first investor press conference was a little different.

To improve productivity in organizations you need only get leaders out in the field

The controversial Koch brothers wrote a book called the Science of Success (2007). I don’t recommend you read it as it’s one of those books that successful people write where they think they were successful because of these management techniques, whereas it’s more likely that because they were successful they could try out these management techniques (fads of the day?).

According to the ASTD’s 2013 State of the Industry Report, U.S. organizations spent $164.2 billion on employee learning and development in 2012. The report does a good job of categorizing and classifying expenditure. But what about ROI? How can managers structure training to ensure a positive ROI?

How often have you rolled out a new IT project that failed to deliver the desired benefits? Most projects fail to deliver benefits because of poor change management. Little to no attention is paid to the people side.

From the Vault

All too often, I hear that lean management is about cutting waste. Companies that stop here, however, are missing a big trick. Going further than cutting waste – creating improvements that benefit customers, shareholders, and staff – and seeking continuous improvements thereafter is the ultimate ambition of lean.

You can streamline your business and reduce process complexity by using process maps to identify the critical and the unnecessary areas in the maps. By identifying steps that add no value, or that lead to errors, you can remove or improve these to streamline your business and improve profitability.