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Successfully managing change through a coaching culture

Organizations and companies must adapt to the ecosystem in which they operate if they want to survive. Call it the Darwin approach to business, but in the fierce competition of the market, only the fittest survive; or at least have a better chance of surviving.

Evolution and adaptation are the key strategies for a long-lasting successful business. And evolution means change.

Easier said than done.

According to the Human Capital Institute (HCI), change management is quite a challenging endeavor in all organizations. Research conducted by HCI showed that 85% of organizations experienced an unsuccessful change management initiative within the last two years. An astonishing figure for such a crucial process!

Read more: What neuroscience has to say about organizational change

Change management is hard

It’s common knowledge, but people resist change. Especially when you need persistence and consistency (some processes may take months, if not years, to implement) and you don’t see quick results, people lose confidence in the initiative altogether. The most common reaction is “I told you it won’t work”.

Others may even feel frustration: they go through all these new processes, which are difficult to learn, and they don’t see any improvement (or see only minor improvements) for the time being. “What’s the point of all this?” is another common reaction.

Some people simply like their routine. They have adapted to the current status quo and don’t see the point of changing anything. When presented with a change initiative, their reaction might be honest perplexity, as they are happy with the way things are. “If it’s not broken, why fix it?”, they might say.

Or some might quote the French philosopher Voltaire and remind you that: “Best is the enemy of good”.

Obviously, fear of change is also an important factor. Individual fears and concerns may lead to systemic rigidity throughout the organization. Possible reactions are: “I’m afraid I won’t be able to do my job like this” or “I’m worried I won’t be able to do this and my job”.

These fears should be addressed as quickly as possible, as they are important for the wellbeing of the employees and the success of the initiative. Concerns show that people would like to do better, but they fear they are not up to the challenge.

Read more: What instructional designers need to know about behavioral change

A coaching culture can help

Creating a coaching culture might help people feel more included in the decision-making process and accept change initiatives. In coaching sessions, individual concerns and fear can be effectively addressed. In fact, coaching sessions can be an excellent environment to address the most common pitfalls related to change management and to identify the most appropriate solutions.

Addressing leadership style, strengths, and blind spots. Even if they don’t lead by example, leaders set the example for the rest of the organization. If they are not ready to implement change, their attitude will spread throughout the staff. On the other hand, if leaders believe that change is for the benefit of the organization, they will inspire others to believe that too.

Read more: The three keys to success for influential leaders

Overcoming resistance. When change is absolutely necessary, “resistance is futile”. It’s not about imposing change at all costs, but about identifying resistance triggers, addressing them and moving on. If fear is an issue, people should be reassured. For instance, if you implement automation, you should reassure staff that robots will not take their jobs. Their jobs will just be different.

Unveiling new processes and tools. In coaching sessions, new and innovative ideas may come up. Both internal and external coaching is useful. Employees from different departments of the organization can see how change affects other lines of business and learn from that experience. External coaches have the advantage of not being directly involved in the process and come up with a fresh perspective.

Read more: 3 Tips on navigating rapid change in the organization

Final thoughts

Change is rarely easy. It takes a lot to break habits and adopt new points of view. However, in an ever-changing business ecosystem, change may sometimes be the only chance of survival. Those who can change will grow their business and keep their clients.

The bottom line is that even in organizations, change readiness starts with personal change readiness. As Leo Tolstoy so aptly put it: “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

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