HR Grapevine
HR Grapevine | Executive Grapevine International Ltd

All change!

How coaching can help in periods of business change
All change!

All change!


How coaching can help in periods of business change

Words by Sophie Parrott| Design by Matt Bonnar
 

The biggest shifts you see are when the lightbulbs come on and people come to conclusions themselves

“The mediocre mentor tells. The good mentor explains. The superior mentor demonstrates. The greatest mentors inspire,” is a quote popularly attributed to William Arthur Ward, an author – who was awarded an honorary Oklahoma City University Degree in recognition of his professional achievements – once said. Many know his words to be true. Employees can be told how to overcome a challenge or tackle a situation, but it is not until they are given the knowledge and the tools to do it themselves that they will become fully invested in the cause. Take transformational change, something that many companies are currently going through, for example. If companies change their organisational strategy or shake up their business objectives, employees need to understand the context of what is going on, why it is going on and their role in successfully driving this change forwards. This will help employees get onboard with the change and subsequently they can add value if they are clear on the direction that the business is headed.

In the context of the workplace, coaching, according to Sir John Whitmore, a pioneer of the executive coaching industry, is “unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance . It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” Particularly if a business is going through changes, employees need to learn, rather than be taught in a hypothetical sense, how to cope with new business environments. This is where coaching can come in. So, can coaching help employees in periods of business change? We spoke to the experts to find out.

 

 

“Business change can be difficult, as anyone who has gone through it will testify. For anyone in a leadership position, whether CEO or first line supervisor, the challenges can be particularly painful – the situation is largely fluid, objectives may not be clear and many people will be manoeuvring to protect their positions as well as the integrity of their teams.

“Whilst there is no ‘road map’ to change using coaches and mentors can significantly enhance the effectiveness of leaders, giving them the confidence to challenge their beliefs and think through solutions in the case of coaches, or by offering practical, experiential advice in the case of mentors.”

 

 

Coaching as a ‘crutch’

Organisational change impacts people in different ways so ensuring that the reasons for change are properly communicated with employees is key. “There will be a lot of people who are potentially struggling to understand why the change is necessary, why it is taking part and what the implications will be for the individual themselves, for their colleagues and the wider organisation,” explains William Shorten, L&D Director and Head of HR at Saint-Gobain. Throughout any period of change, employees will have questions and he said that, more often than not, the answers aren’t straight forward. Therefore, Shorten iterates that the support of a coach or mentor can “act as a crutch to people in order for [employees] to better understand the context of what is going on.”

 

 

To have the support of a coach or mentor may act as a further crutch to people

Coaching emotions

Sarah Lawton, Head of HR at Plusnet, adds that coaching can help employees come up with the best ways to help themselves move through change: by allowing employees to understand the future vision of the business, process their own emotions, and see the wider context of the changes. “Sometimes when you are [involved] and are leading something, you forget that other people haven’t been on that journey with you and don’t have that context, so I think it is a massive thing that people often miss. It’s about stepping back and thinking: ‘Have we nailed that future piece and that context piece?’,” she explains.

In Lawton’s thinking, coaching is key as it can help with the communication aspect of change. Her ethos tallies with research around change. According to a 2015 McKinsey & Co study, company-wide change efforts are circa 12 times more likely to succeed if senior leaders continuously communicate with employees. Lawton understands this, adding that leaders must consider the human emotions of their workforce. “I am passionate about change being personal and leader-led when it can be. Anything that effects people has an emotional impact on people, it should be leader-led and face-to-face where possible,” she adds.

 

 

Coaching as a problem solver

Jennifer Heyes, Director of Talent & Development at GVC, parent company of Ladbrokes Coral and Foxy Casino, believes that coaching is about how you can get employees to come up with the answers for themselves – which is particularly apt for periods of business change. “I’m trained as a coach myself and when I’m doing coaching with other people, the biggest shifts you see are [when] the lightbulbs come on and when people come to conclusions themselves,” Heyes says. “Coaching is very much about enquiring and questioning rather than telling people the answer and you get a bigger shift because it comes from them.”

 

 

Anything that affects people has an emotional impact

The coaching approach

According to the HR leaders who were speaking to HR Grapevine for this piece, coaching gives employees the tools to better understand the context behind business change and comprehend the ‘why’ factor for themselves. Rather than being spoon-fed the information via company-wide training sessions, if employees are able to develop their own solutions, the outcome is likely to be far better for all parties involved – especially in difficult change periods.

In Shorten’s words, coaching can be the ‘crutch’ for employees trying to navigate the business change process and come out the other side – giving them something to ‘hold onto’ when times get difficult. It is also about giving employees the tools to process change independently – which improves the chances of change impacting an organisation positively rather than negatively. “When you’re going through change, if you are very directive with people and you don’t help them understand the impact and the ‘why’ then it doesn’t land well,” Heyes concludes. “So, having a real coaching approach that [allows] people to make sense of it themselves helps employees to really embed that change.”

 

 

“The mediocre mentor tells. The good mentor explains. The superior mentor demonstrates. The greatest mentors inspire,” is a quote popularly attributed to William Arthur Ward, an author – who was awarded an honorary Oklahoma City University Degree in recognition of his professional achievements – once said. Many know his words to be true. Employees can be told how to overcome a challenge or tackle a situation, but it is not until they are given the knowledge and the tools to do it themselves that they will become fully invested in the cause. Take transformational change, something that many companies are currently going through, for example. If companies change their organisational strategy or shake up their business objectives, employees need to understand the context of what is going on, why it is going on and their role in successfully driving this change forwards. This will help employees get onboard with the change and subsequently they can add value if they are clear on the direction that the business is headed.

 

The biggest shifts you see are when the lightbulbs come on and people come to conclusions themselves

 

In the context of the workplace, coaching, according to Sir John Whitmore, a pioneer of the executive coaching industry, is “unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” Particularly if a business is going through changes, employees need to learn, rather than be taught in a hypothetical sense, how to cope with new business environments. This is where coaching can come in. So, can coaching help employees in periods of business change? We spoke to the experts to find out.

 

“Business change can be difficult, as anyone who has gone through it will testify. For anyone in a leadership position, whether CEO or first line supervisor, the challenges can be particularly painful – the situation is largely fluid, objectives may not be clear and many people will be manoeuvring to protect their positions as well as the integrity of their teams.

“Whilst there is no ‘road map’ to change using coaches and mentors can significantly enhance the effectiveness of leaders, giving them the confidence to challenge their beliefs and think through solutions in the case of coaches, or by offering practical, experiential advice in the case of mentors.”

 

Coaching as a ‘crutch’

Organisational change impacts people in different ways so ensuring that the reasons for change are properly communicated with employees is key. “There will be a lot of people who are potentially struggling to understand why the change is necessary, why it is taking part and what the implications will be for the individual themselves, for their colleagues and the wider organisation,” explains William Shorten, L&D Director and Head of HR at Saint-Gobain. Throughout any period of change, employees will have questions and he said that, more often than not, the answers aren’t straight forward. Therefore, Shorten iterates that the support of a coach or mentor can “act as a crutch to people in order for [employees] to better understand the context of what is going on.”

 

To have the support of a coach or mentor may act as a further crutch to people

 

Coaching emotions

Sarah Lawton, Head of HR at Plusnet, adds that coaching can help employees come up with the best ways to help themselves move through change: by allowing employees to understand the future vision of the business, process their own emotions, and see the wider context of the changes. “Sometimes when you are [involved] and are leading something, you forget that other people haven’t been on that journey with you and don’t have that context, so I think it is a massive thing that people often miss. It’s about stepping back and thinking: ‘Have we nailed that future piece and that context piece?’,” she explains.

In Lawton’s thinking, coaching is key as it can help with the communication aspect of change. Her ethos tallies with research around change. According to a 2015 McKinsey & Co study, company-wide change efforts are circa 12 times more likely to succeed if senior leaders continuously communicate with employees. Lawton understands this, adding that leaders must consider the human emotions of their workforce. “I am passionate about change being personal and leader-led when it can be. Anything that effects people has an emotional impact on people, it should be leader-led and face-to-face where possible,” she adds.

 

 

Coaching as a problem solver

Jennifer Heyes, Director of Talent & Development at GVC, parent company of Ladbrokes Coral and Foxy Casino, believes that, coaching is about how you can get employees to come up with the answers for themselves – which is particularly apt for periods of business change. “I’m trained as a coach myself and when I’m doing coaching with other people, the biggest shifts you see are [when] the lightbulbs come on and when people come to conclusions themselves,” Heyes says. “Coaching is very much about enquiring and questioning rather than telling people the answer and you get a bigger shift because it comes from them.”

 

Anything that affects people has an emotional impact

 

The coaching approach

According to the HR leaders who were speaking to HR Grapevine for this piece, coaching gives employees the tools to better understand the context behind business change and comprehend the ‘why’ factor for themselves. Rather than being spoon-fed the information via company-wide training sessions, if employees are able to develop their own solutions, the outcome is likely to be far better for all parties involved – especially in difficult change periods.

In Shorten’s words, coaching can be the ‘crutch’ for employees trying to navigate the business change process and come out the other side – giving them something to ‘hold onto’ when times get difficult. It is also about giving employees the tools to process change independently – which improves the chances of change impacting an organisation positively rather than negatively. “When you’re going through change, if you are very directive with people and you don’t help them understand the impact and the ‘why’ then it doesn’t land well,” Heyes concludes. “So, having a real coaching approach that [allows] people to make sense of it themselves helps employees to really embed that change.”


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