Coaching through change
As a concept, “organisational change” can often be thought of in the same ominous and threatening breath as “downsizing’ or “improving operational efficiencies”. Perhaps as a result, the idea of a manager coaching reports through change is often thought of as an activity concerned with something inherently negative and employees may be naturally inclined to avoid the whole concept.
In reality, any organisational change – while perhaps often resisted through natural inertia – can involve many developments and changes that have no particular negative aspect attached. They are simply a change from the status quo which may, in the longer term, actually significantly improve the working life of employees. Here are three crucial aspects of coaching through change that managers need to think about to help ensure employees stay on-side:
Be clear on why the change is happening
Change is often reflexively rejected by employees purely because it is new and different. The first stage in breaking down this natural resistance is making every effort to clearly, honestly and accurately explain what the change is, and why it is happening. Removing the mystery from the process – perhaps showing that it is aimed at improving efficiency or increasing engagement – can help clear the fog of uncertainty around the new conditions.
Don’t leave employees out
Ensuring that employees feel a part of the process of change is critical for gaining their acceptance of it. This means allowing them, as much as possible, to voice their opinions on the things that are happening and allowing them input on the way it is undertaken. Including them from day one, and keeping them involved through to the (hopefully successful) conclusion of a change process makes it far less a change being done “to them”.
It is important throughout a change process to keep coaching your reports, and never to assume that things are settled and accepted. Managers also need to be an example through the process – “walking the talk” to demonstrate that they, too, are affected by the changes underway and are actively responding to make them work.
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