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Helping Leaders Embrace Change Through Coaching

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As the new year gets underway, you’ve probably been part of at least one conversation about New Year’s resolutions (your own or someone else’s). While mapping out a plan for change can be exciting, the prospect of actually implementing these changes may be overwhelming, even scary.

According to the Human Capital Institute (HCI), 77 percent of HR practitioners and leaders report their organization is in a state of constant change. It’s also been widely reported that organizations’ change management initiatives fail at high rates. 85 percent of organizations can cite at least one failed change management initiative within the last two years.

This puzzling dilemma prompted the International Coach Federation (ICF) to partner with HCI to conduct new research on how organizations navigate change.

HCI-ICF research confirms that leadership is one of the most critical factors impacting the success or failure of a change management initiative.

While leaders at the highest levels of the organization devote countless hours to discussing change at a strategic level, many of them remain insulated from the “real” work required daily for those inside the organization. When this disconnect occurs, critical context-setting conversations about the impetus for change might fail to reach those who ultimately will be tasked with implementing the change.

Executives who are responsible for announcing the change initiative to the organization often fail to gain a deeper understanding about what it will be like for the individual who is responsible for a given task before, during, and after the change initiative.

Leaders need to test and validate the assumptions they make with regards to the requested changes. Only then they can be sure they are requesting sustainable change, with a high probability for success.


Some additional research results:

  • Investments are made in mainly traditional learning activities (such as classroom training, web-based training, and e-learning) to help employees move the change forward. It’s perhaps unsurprising that the “comfort food” approach to learning in the face of change yields underwhelming results.
  • So, what makes successful change leaders different? Using specific talent and business outcomes as criteria, thet identified a sub-set of respondents’ organizations as high-performing organizations (HPOs). These HPOs were much more likely to leverage less traditional, more collaborative learning activities for change management, such as one-on-one coaching and team coaching with a professional coach practitioner

Table:
How Helpful Are Coaching and Formal Learning on Change Management? How helpful was the activity in achieving the goals of the changemanagement initiative(s)?
(Percentage reporting Very and Extremely Helpful)

Coaching Formal Learning
78% – One-on-one coaching with professional coach practitioner 55% – Assessments
78% – Work group coaching with professional coach practitioner 49% – Classroom training
70% – Access to manager/leader using coaching skills 44% – Microlearning content
67% – Team coaching with professional coach practitioner 34% – Web-based training or e-learning

Source: HCI-ICF. 2018. Building a Coaching Culture for Change Management. Please contact me for more information about this paper.


So, all of this raises the question: Why would a credible leader rely solely upon formal learning activities to help their employees face change and hope for a favorable outcome?

I believe most leaders would concede that one size cannot fit all, but it likely comes down to their individual mindsets about coaching.

Those who lead organizations with strong coaching cultures have already realized the impact coaching activities can have when navigating the sea of change. For many, activities like team coaching have moved beyond a “nice to have” and become an organizational imperative, which allows their employees to engage in a more collaborative and creative process for handling those dark and messy days that inevitably come with launching a major change initiative.

If you believe people are more likely to support any work they were asked to help create, organizational leaders should do everything within their power to effectively communicate the precise rationale behind the change and strive to empower individuals and teams with tailored support that will enable them to embrace and thrive in the face of change.


Be sure to check out the upcoming webcast Helping Leaders Embrace Change Through Coaching for more insights.


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