A Manager’s Guide to Dealing with Change
All people and organizations have to deal with change. Change in markets, technology, competition, relationships, life styles, divorce to name but a few. We all have to accept change and learn to manage it effectively. Organizational change tests leadership qualities to the full.
Once the need for change has been identified, we will be faced with the prospect of implementing the change either personally or within our businesses. Sticking to the following three steps will ensure that the implementation is as trouble free as possible.
Step 1 – Analyze the gap
It is all very well identifying the right changes, but implementing them can appear to be a formidable task. List the main differences between where you are now and where you intend to be. This list is essential in the effective management of change. Without this information there will be two potential challenges that may hijack your intentions and efforts.
The first challenge is likely to come from staff who may feel their needs are not being taken into account. If they feel no one cares about the differences the change will make to their world they will not care much about the organization’s attempts to move forward.
The second challenge is operational. You alone cannot be expected to identify each single difference that change will make to your function, department or organization, but a co-operative effort could. Those closest to the job will be able to view the changes from a different angle, and perhaps spot unforeseen difficulties or opportunities which you may have missed.
Step 2 – Plan the route
The quickest and most effective way of getting anywhere is to work out the best route beforehand. Plan a route which breaks the journey up into manageable chunks. This helps to make the process seem far less formidable. When planning the route local knowledge is very valuable. That knowledge is usually locked up in the head of your staff, so consultation is not only vital in terms of their involvement but essential if you wish to avoid difficulties.
Step 3 – Manage the process
Unless you manage the journey the grand design may fail. What may scupper it is the human factor. Follow the Change Cycle below, a simple model of how people experience change and then consider how individuals and groups can cope with pressures created by it. Understanding this can help managers and coaches provide practical support to people undergoing change.
The Change Cycle
We can identify five stages in this process of adjustment to new circumstances. At each stage the relationship between levels of performance and self-esteem alters. By self-esteem we mean both self-confidence and satisfaction with life and work.
Stage 1: Denial
“We’ve always done things this way” “Why change – we’re making a profit, aren’t we?” “Don’t change a winning team” “my life isn’t so bad really, I can cope with it staying the same” These are some of the ways denial can find expression. Faced with the possibility of change, people will often find value in their present circumstances, often in situations that they have complained of previously.
Stage 2: Defence
Now the situation becomes clearer. People must begin to face up to new tasks, working for a new boss or with a different group of people, perhaps in a different department or at a new location. Thus they become aware that they must come to terms with changes in the way they work. People may attempt to defend their own job or their existing circumstances and often both performance and self-esteem plummet.
Stage 3: Discarding
At this stage people begin to let go of the past and look forward to the future. People begin to identify with the changes; they talk openly and constructively about the new way. When this point is reached, self-esteem begins to flow back.
Stage 4: Adapting
Just as people must adapt to new ways, so the new ways will have to adapt – procedures, structure and machines rarely work effectively first time and new relationships need time and effort to work too. People begin to try out the new situation for themselves. They test new behaviours, try working to different standards and ways of coping with changes. This way people learn new skills.
Stage 5: Normalizing
Now the people involved have created a new life, system, process or organization. New relationships between people and processes have been tried, modified and accepted. These now become incorporated into understandings of the new way of working and the ‘new’ becomes part of ‘normal’ behaviour.
Supporting people through change
It seems that people experience change in these ways – initially as disturbance, perhaps even as a shock then coming to accept its reality, testing it out and engaging in a process of mutual adaptation. Finally, they come to terms with it. Self-esteem and performance vary, initially declining and then growing again. The ‘engine’ for rebuilding performance is the self-esteem of the people involved.
Finally, we do not suggest that people go through these stages neatly or that everyone goes through them at the same time or rate. The important point is that people do seem to experience significant changes in these ways and that this leads on to a number of practical ways in which the problem of coping can be handled.
Coping with the process of change places great demands on the individuals involved, whatever their circumstances or level in the organization. As a leader or a coach you will be required not only to deal with your own reactions but also to assist others in rebuilding their self-confidence and self-esteem as a preliminary to lifting performance.
With budgets tight, is coaching a worthwhile expenditure?
Thanks to Claire Collins, Director of the Diploma in Business Administration at Henley Business School.
There is no doubt that considerable sums of money these days are invested in coaching as a form of employee development in organisations. What is also true is that it is very difficult to know how effective this investment is or what is the best way to get optimum value for money from offering coaching to staff. The CIPD’s 2011 report, The Coaching Climate, showed that coaching is offered by 75% of the organisations surveyed and that, even in these straightened times, 84% of these are using it more than was reported two years ago. The two main purposes for undertaking coaching are stated as being; improvement in performance and employee engagement. Although it is problematic to try to quantify the beneficial effect that coaching in business has on the bottom line, research demonstrates that a number of indirect benefits can be realised that lead to improved engagement, better performance, greater efficiency and effectiveness and, ultimately, enhanced business results. Some of these indirect benefits include: lower burn-out rates, improved psychological health, better communication, reduced candour and denial, higher resilience, learning adherence, greater capability and capacity and improved interpersonal relationships. In addition, by persisting with these improvements, organisational costs such as sickness and high turnover can be reduced.
The many forms of coaching
What is less often understood is that there are different forms of coaching that can bring about these positive outcomes. The most common route is to engage coaches, either internally or externally sourced, to work with particular groups of staff as part of a formal development process. The coach and coachee sit in a private space and conduct a one and a half hour session in which deeply meaningful issues are discussed, options for change generated and an action plan agreed. While this is a simplistic view of a very sophisticated intervention, it is the most commonly used coaching format. However, an alternative way of embedding coaching is for the organisation to adapt to a coaching style of leadership. The skills of listening and questioning in order to address developmental issues become embedded in the organisation’s culture and it forms the prevailing philosophy behind key leader-follower interactions. By embracing a coaching culture as the bedrock of the organisation’s conversations, the indirect benefits listed above are achieved in a systemic way.
One to one relationships
However, let us return to the more conventional coaching approach; the one-to-one conversation. Are there ways in which the organisation can stack the odds in favour of getting a good return on its spend? Fortunately, recent research suggests that this is, indeed, achievable. One of the most vital aspects of a successful coaching intervention is that the relationship between coach and coachee is as positive as possible. Good rapport, openness and the establishment of trust are shown to lead to better coaching conversations and stronger outcomes. So as to achieve this, a deliberate process of matching the pair together should be undertaken. Coachees should be given a choice of who they would like to work with, ideally, from at least three candidates. In order to achieve this short list, some process of selection should take place in the organisation, based on a range of criteria relevant to the situation, which might include the coach’s experience, accreditation, previous clients, supervision and style. The coachee should then be given the opportunity to meet each potential coach. This does not have to be a long drawn-out process. In fact, it has been shown that a brief encounter of only five minutes is sufficient for this matching decision to be made. Once the match is achieved, a three-way meeting between the coach, coachee and the person commissioning the coaching enables clarification of the objectives of the coaching, and the expectations on each party. At the commencement of the coaching sessions themselves, a robust contracting conversation should establish important aspects, such as confidentiality and boundaries of the coaching. These preparatory actions strengthen the likelihood of a fruitful coaching relationship being formed, which itself is an indicator of better coaching outcomes.
Good coaching is worthwhile to the business
So, is coaching worth the spend? I believe that it certainly is, if an organisation approaches it systematically, sets up the coaching relationship well and makes the most of the indirect benefits that accrue this most surely builds performance, engagement and ultimately business success.
Where the hell is Matt?
Matt used to make and play videogames. After a couple of years he became disillusioned with the demand for nothing more than war and gangster games on X-box and in February 2003 resigned his job in Brisbane. He used the money he’d saved to go ‘walkabout’ around Asia … until his money ran out. Prior to travelling he made a website so he could keep his family and friends updated about where he was. A few months into his trip, a travel friend gave Matt the idea of doing a dance and have his friend record it for posting on his website. Matt had a particular dance … the dance he did as a five-year-old. And that’s the only dance he can do!
A couple years later, someone stumbled across the video online and passed it to someone else, who passed it to someone else, and so on, i.e. the video went semi-viral. Someone influential at Stride Gum asked Matt if he’d be interested in taking another trip around the world to make a new video. Matt asked if they’d be paying for it. They said yes. Matt thought this sounded like another good idea.
In 2006, Matt took a 6 month trip through 39 countries on all 7 continents. In that time, he danced a great deal. The second video that resulted from this trip went a little more viral!
In 2007 Matt went back to Stride with another idea. He realized his bad dancing wasn’t actually all that interesting, and that other people were much better at being bad at it. He showed them his inbox, which was overflowing with emails from all over the world. He told them he wanted to travel around the world one more time and invite the people who’d written him to come out and dance too. The Stride people thought that sounded like yet another good idea, so they let him do it. And he did. This is when Matt became a leader. In the words of Derek Sivers (‘How to Start a Movement’ – see TED.com), “… what he was doing was so easy to follow … “
The attached video is the result … and this went totally viral on YouTube … so you may have already seen it. If you have, I think it’s worth another viewing!
Serial entrepreneur and RSA chairman Luke Johnson visits the RSA to share some key tips on the creation of successful, inspiring and ingenious enterprises.
‘Time’ Magazine’s critics have picked the most extraordinary English-language popular recordings since the beginning of TIME magazine in 1923. The link below goes to 100 (unranked) songs of enduring power and inventiveness. And you can play them!
Here’s an exercise I sometimes use in workshops, or as part of a coaching intervention. I think that, if completed candidly, it forms a good basis for some self-directed self-development!
|Category||Positive Behavioural Indicators||Negative Behavioural Indicators||Self-assessment|
|Empathy||Share similar experiences
Acknowledge and respect feelings
Discuss possible solutions
Agreement of the situation
|Dismissive of problems
Ignoring the issue
‘Pull yourself together’ approach
‘Can do’ approach
Willing to do new things
Willing to challenge when appropriate
|‘Can’t do, won’t do’
Unaware of limitations
Willing to listen
Willing to give people time
Receptive to new ideas
Acceptance of constructive criticism
Consistent and fair
Risk of being taken advantage of
Taken for granted
Erosion of authority
Time management issues
|Personal Self-Awareness||Manage own stress levels
Recognise own weaknesses and take action
Recognise strengths and use them to the full
Recognise own needs
Realistic assessment of own abilities
Recognise own influence on others
|Too concerned with own needs
Unrealistic assessment of own abilities
Inability to see own influence on others
|Social Self-Awareness||Being able to respond to others
Using own status appropriately
Sensitive to individuals’/ team workload
|Overstepping the mark
Oversensitive to individuals and personal influence on them
Over-friendly and personal
Willingness to speak up
|Too big for boots
Unrealistic assessment of own abilities
|Motivation||Maintains focus on tasks
‘Can do’ approach
Sits on fence
‘Can’t do’ approach
Puts up obstacles
|Emotional Expression||Friendly behaviour
Open to others
Appropriate body language
Puts people at ease
Appropriate expression of feelings
Closed to others
Too open to others
Wears heart on sleeve
Bottles up feelings
Putting people on the spot
|Social Awareness||Dressing appropriately
Encouraging others to have a view
Language matches the occasion
Showing consideration for others
Showing an interest in others
Hogging centre of attention
Using wrong language for the occasion
Lack of consideration
Bull in a china shop
Not reading body language
|Emotional Balance||Acknowledging feelings appropriately
Identify appropriate outlet for emotion
Expressing reaction to a situation …
Constructive and positive
Displaying emotion innapropriately
|Assertiveness||Create opportunities to put point across
Retain control where appropriate
Ability to assess right time to put point across
Ability to stand ground
Not contributing on behalf of self or organization
Too assertive – may equal arrogance
|Self-Reliance||Sees the wider picture
Get on with the job
Manage own time
Don’t accept help when required
Insular – can be perceived as inapproachable
Put self in danger
|Pressure Performance||Responds well to deadlines
Maintains enthusiasm for the task
Thinking on feet
|Lack of attention to quality
Inability to think clearly – flustered