Business Coaching and Change Management

In the past three years the importance of a committed, dependable workforce has significantly increased when looking at how resilient a business is during a slow economy.

However, having a dedicated workforce is not always enough, businesses have to constantly adapt, merge departments, adjust individual responsibilities, which have a direct impact on your staffs commitment in most cases… Leaders and managers with good change management skills can help their workforce adjust and embrace change in a positive, productive step forward – These managers often determine whether the business develops and grows during a tough economy or merely struggles by.

Why is it then that so many companies seem to struggle to effectively manage change? There is no shortage of methodologies and these are well documented.  Unfortunately many of these have their emphasis on process and project management.

Equally unfortunate and unhelpful is the pervasive belief that everyone is “resistant to change”. Clearly people take time to come to terms with change, but we are inherently flexible and resilient as a species. Think about it. Our lives are punctuated with change.  We start school, leave, get a job, get married, get divorced, have children, move house etc.

It’s important for managers and leaders that recognise that:

  1. Different people react differently to change
  2. Everyone has fundamental needs that have to be met
  3. Change often involves a loss, and people go through the “loss curve”
  4. Expectations need to be managed realistically
  5. Fears have to be dealt with

The following the guidelines may help make the challenge of managing change less daunting:

Understanding the behavioural response of individuals to change will make you more empathetic and less likely to misinterpret behavioural signals as resistance.

Take the time to conduct individual interviews with staff to help them to produce a personal strategy for dealing with the change. It must be theirs, not yours.

Give individuals opportunity and time to express their concerns. And listen! Do not interrupt by continually restating the company line.

Help people to be aware of choices and options they have. Ensure that they have thought through the consequences of those alternatives.

Where the change involves a loss, help them to identify what will or might replace that loss. Let them identify these. Avoid the temptation to “rescue” them.

Be as open and honest as you can be, communicating as much information as possible as regularly as possible, but do not set unrealistic or overly optimistic expectations.

And finally, managers and leaders often struggle with change themselves. So if uncertain, consider training or the use of professional support to assist the organisation through the transition.  It can be highly effective.