Changing Times

pastfutureHow are people feeling in these changing times? Are we at the end of one era, in transition or at the beginning of a new era?

Each time we experience change we need to consider that we are actually starting from an end and then move forward. Where we have come from and, more important, how we feel about the transition to a new phase are critical issues.

When companies are facing a change, major or minor, what are the tools at their disposal to ease the transition for people within the organization?

One of the most useful tools is coaching.

Coaching means spending One-on-One time with people: listening to them; getting to know them; understanding their successes and concerns; helping them to focus; dealing with performance issues in an effective manner; and making them feel valued. 

Coaching people to succeed requires art and skill in asking effective questions, empathic listening and keen observation of body language.

Effective coaching that helps people to master the transition phase of change, has four key components:

  • Obtain Commitment through mutually agreed goals
  • Provide Guidance
  • Offer Support
  • Provide Accountability

Fulfilling these objectives requires time, planning and a desire to communicate on a regular basis. Research has shown that less than 50% of managers effectively communicate information regarding change. Regular coaching can make the difference.

Another issue for consideration in any organizational change is the impact upon people’s roles and responsibilities. In the absence of clarity, people stumble along with the best of intentions, but they may not actually be going in the right direction.

As their leader how can you make a difference to the people within your organization? How can you help them to master change and move through the transition phase quickly and efficiently?

One strategy is for the organization’s leaders/managers to become effective coaches. This will not happen overnight, but with proper training and expert guidance the right behaviours will occur, as James Baldwin noted, “Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

The benefits of coaching extend beyond the transition phase. It is one of the tools that make the difference between success and mediocrity. Research has shown that companies, which use effective coaching can get a 6:1 return on their investment in coaching training and time

In my opinion there are two major obstacles that prevent effective coaching:

Time to do it effectively – We have busy lives and as leaders we often feel compelled to attend to the needs of our external customers before we tend to the needs of our internal customers – those who report to us. Nothing could be further from the truth:  “Feed your Staff” and “Treat your internal customers as #1.”  Usually the people within an organization, who satisfy most of the client’s needs, are the support people not the managers. If those support people are not happy and feeling valued, it is unlikely that they will be treating your clients and customers well. Thus it is extremely important to make time for coaching internal people, rather than something you will do if you have time. The solution is to make time. Plan coaching sessions and the agenda ahead of time.

Understanding what coaching really means – Coaching is about helping people to grow and develop. The coachee should determine the content of the session agenda.

A coaching meeting should include:

  • Finding out how the person is feeling
  • Celebrating successes
  • Discussing any issues
  • Reviewing progress on goals and actions since the last meeting
  • Dealing with any performance concerns
  • Providing communication on pertinent issues
  • Helping with career development and exploring future opportunities

In today’s busy environment where many organizations face challenges attracting and retaining  the best people, coaching is a key tool. Companies, which believe in the power of coaching and invest time in the process, will achieve success.

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July 1, 2006

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