The coaching technique provides a tool to implement organizational change (OC). Organizational change is like a puzzle. For success, the pieces must interlock. Successful cultural workforce change requires more than distributing new rules on paper and more than incentives and consequences. It requires focusing. The first step is analyzing the existing situation. The second step is designing the desired improvement. The third step is assessing the stages required to get from the existing culture to the desired change. All three phases will need to embrace new thinking techniques and new behaviors.
Coaching has been recorded in OC since the mid 1950’s, in areas of manager development and employee training. Starting in the 1970’s, coaching moved into leadership development and individual employee growth and development. The object of coaching is achieving positive change. Change from any aspect rarely comes easy and because of the number of people and departments within organizations. OC is a difficult task. Change means doing something different, or doing the unknown. Doing the unknown brings fear and stress. John Kotter (1996), an OC master outlined eight steps necessary to achieve OC success.
1. Establishing a sense of urgency
2. Creating a guiding coalition
3. Developing a vision and strategy to achieve the specific change
4. Communicating the change both its vision and strategy
5. Empowering individuals for action
6. Generating short-term wins
7. Considering gains and preventing relapse
8. Anchoring each change won into the culture of the organization
Each department must have a leader. These leaders must first achieve an understanding of why change. Their job is then to inspire all those around them to accept change through understanding enabling them to prioritize the change until it becomes the actual way that the organization performs. The main coach will call the leaders together in a series of coalition meetings. The coach will explain the benefits of the change and encourage the leaders to help create a vision of the organization, as it will be once the change is in place. The coach must involve the leaders in a communications plan that will cause individuals and teams to realize the good of the vision and desire to set it in place.
As a coalition, the coach and the leaders must devise or purchase a training program. The coach must recognize the leaders know their staff and use this knowledge to its fullest potential. The leaders and the coach must be observed using the training themselves. Both must recognize and acknowledge the use of the training by individuals and teams throughout the organization. Successful coaches often pattern their plans to motivate individual employees according to Prochaska and DiClemente’s (1984), transtheoretical model of change (TTM). The TTM identifies six stages of change.
1. Pre-contemplation: being unaware of the need to contemplate change
2. Contemplation: thinking about the need but not committed
3. Preparation: becoming committed and making small changes
4. Action: engaging in new behaviors but not committed
5. Maintenance: consistently and repeatedly acting on the new change
6. Relapse: falling back into old behavior patterns, usually temporary
Coaches often design six stages of change to cope with the model provided by TTM.
1. Raise awareness by asking thought provoking questions
2. Exploring the pro’s and con’s of change with the leaders
3. Clarifying the organizational vision
4. Encouraging self-direction
5. Anticipating pitfalls and planning recovery
6. Treating relapse as a normal reaction
Before the organization can realize the actuality of change, the leaders must achieve their own individual process of change and then be instrumental in helping the individuals in their departments achieve their own unique change processes. The coaching technique applied correctly keeps all players on the same field. The coach works with leaders as a team and with individual leaders as needed. The leaders become coaches in their own departments working with their teams collectively and with individuals as needed. The coach must visit each department showing availability for assisting the team or assisting on a one-on-one basis. Coaches are more than teachers providing knowledge. They must lead by example. The coaching technique has proven repeatedly to be an effective means of bringing cultural change to an entire organization.
As the coach moves the leaders through the eight steps of successful OC from establishing to anchoring and the six stages from pre-contemplation to relapse possibility the leaders must move their employees also. It is the coach’s job to get into the workforce and cement small changes from the ground up. When OC fails, it is usually because the leaders and the teams are not on the same page. It is vital that everyone obtains each level equally before moving on. While achieving OC some will catch on fire and others will smolder. So teams may move at different paces, but members of individual teams must not move on until each team member is ready. It is the coach’s responsibility to identify where every individual is and move them on through, helping them understand the relevance of the change and that it is reachable. Although coaching is a slow-paced method of achieving OC, its results prove long lasting.
Successful OC requires creativity and innovation. Creativity is the development of ideas. Innovation is the actuality of effecting change. Coaching is an effective method of providing both.
Executive Team Coaching, Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, The Wikipedia Foundation, Last Modified 9 December 2010
Kotters 8-Step Change Model, Mind Tools, On-Line Management and Leadershiop Training
Transtheoretical Model, Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, The Wikipedia Foundation, Last Modified 3 March 2011