How coaching can help drive organizational change?

Posted On Mar 05, 2022 |

For the last couple of decades, it become commonplace that businesses around the world are facing with fast pacing changes, led by exponential technology growth which is influencing every sector. For example, the world has produced stunning 90% of its Big Data in the past two years!

To accommodate, be agile and become high-performing, organizations are more and more adopting change management approach, methodology, and different tools to help them drive changes in short- and long-term strategies.

Knowing this, often lots of change management initiatives are happening in parallel so leading and steering incremental and disruptive changes becomes the usual agenda for many CEOs and all levels of management.

But even dough being involved in lots of training, mentoring programs, conferences… 85% of organizations have experienced an unsuccessful change management initiative in the past few years (Filipkowski, J.).

So, what is it about change that is so challenging to the organizations?

If we put side factors such as poor prioritization, insufficient knowledge, inadequate tactics or metrics, probably the biggest challenge that management is facing is resistance among employees. If not involved in changes affecting them, employees could also show a lack of interest to face them or make them sustainable in the long run. If the ultimate goal in change management is to improve overall organizational performance and make it sustainable, employees are the ones who are at the baseline so no wonder that finding the right modality to communicate is the key to success.

When talking about communication, the most effective way to develop organizational change management capability is coaching.

According to research from 2018 conducted by Human Capital Institute (HCI) and International Coach Federation (ICF), the most cited reasons for using coaching activities for change management are “addressing leadership style, strengths, and blind spots; overcoming resistance; building resilience and change readiness; and finding processes and tools”.

Coaching as a process of personal and team development has remarkable potential to help leaders and organizations to build a strong culture that is embracing changes. Although the first step is to make change visible, the true challenge lies in creating an environment that considers change as an integrative part of work and not something that is usually just reacted to. Coaching fits like the right piece of the puzzle since in its nutshell is good communication and listening skills, as well as partnering to find the right solution.

From 'I don’t have time for this' to 'This is so useful

A couple of years ago, while introducing a new initiative to the organization, as HR I faced some common replies from employees on different seniority levels as a push-back: “We’ve always done it this way”, “I don’t have time for this, I need to put out the fire” and many more in a similar manner. Even though my colleagues were very cooperative, pressure to deliver results was affecting their willingness to execute change. In this case, change meant going the extra mile and working overtime for something they didn’t believe will help in achieving better performance. They already had a lot on their plates. But the key moment was that decision about introducing this initiative came from above, without previously any buy-in being made.

A couple of months after that, I’ve gone through the coach training and was completely blown away with what I’ve learned. When started to use coaching techniques in the organization, I haven’t expected effects will be noticed or that e.g. supervisors and team leads will be interested to receive coaching. I was wrong.

The first feedback that I’ve got was saying: “This is so useful, I never thought this way”; “I never had this kind of conversation, I appreciate it”. Quickly I realized that my colleagues found coaching useful and mind-opening too.

After a while, we started introducing a coaching culture to support all changes that were happening – the organization was in the middle of a transformation. We found out that we could spare so much time with just a couple of team coaching because that brought us much faster compliance and understanding of common goals. Also, the “side effect” of applying to coach was that people felt that they’ve been truly listened to and therefore created more trust with one another. Hearing each other without pushing one’s agenda can create miracles in work😊

It's no wonder that one-on-one and team coaching with a professional coach is recognized as the most helpful activity in achieving goals of the change management in high-performing organizations. To use most of the coaching process, organizations are hiring equally effective internal and external coaches, but to set coaching culture only sustainable way is to develop coaching skills among own employees. Enabling coaching culture is raising chances for an organization to enhance business outcomes or to strengthen its position on a larger scale.

In facing challenges of change management, coaching continuously exceeds in results and is both complementary and upgrading with the training, since it is high tailor-made and gives modality for a deeper impact on employees’ behaviors. Topics that are usually emerging and being greatly addressed with coaching in organizations that are driving change management are leading agile teams, stress management, creating resilience, creating change-friendly teams, overcoming resistance, developing situational leadership style.

So, if anything, I would say that change and coaching go hand in hand through setting common ground and language for a different point of view. Creating understanding within teams and between individuals for each other’s roles and goals possibly don’t sound like something key in reaching KPIs or OKRs, but without a doubt is indispensable in high-performing organizations.