Change Is Inevitable – Except From a Vending Machine

Changes at Schools

Changes at Schools

In business, coaching anyone – from the C-suite to the factory floor – can help him or her embrace change, as well as guide and support his or her people.

By: Jane Murphy

Robert C. Gallagher, businessman and former director of the Green Bay Packers, was right when he made this quip about change being unavoidable.

In the face of the inevitable, we need to confront change and embrace it to make it work to our advantage. This is where the rubber meets the road.

In business, coaching anyone – from the C-suite to the factory floor – can help him or her embrace change, as well as guide and support his or her people.

Four key behaviors are the foundation for optimal performance for people and teams during a change effort:
* Fostering a positive attitude
* Modeling open, transparent communication
* Enlisting stakeholder participation
* Supporting and reinforcing necessary behavior changes
* Managers who understand and exhibit these behaviors, and encourage them in others, can expect better business outcomes.

Attitude
A positive attitude is a significant factor in dealing with change. An “up” outlook on the world energizes participation in creating long-term solutions, and helps foster innovative thinking. The hallmarks of coaching — future-orientation and focus on outcomes — engage people’s participation and help them take ownership of the change. This engagement and ownership actually help the brain learn and sustain new behaviors.

Transparent communication
In their book Switch, Dan and Chip Heath says, “Change is easier when you know where you’re going and why it’s worth it.” We’re much more likely to see everyone pulling in the same direction in companies that communicate openly and transparently.

Openness and honesty are always essential ingredients for engaging employees and generating optimal performance. They are a critical antidote to rumor, fear and stress.

Stakeholder Participation
Getting everyone on board, and enlisting the participation of all those impacted by a change, demonstrates that you value your people, that you see the merit of investing them in the change process, and that you understand that the business will benefit from their input.

Support the behavior change
It’s not enough to bullishly announce a change and give people the opportunity for their input. Change is hard, no matter how much sense it makes, no matter the optimism it may engender. It takes commitment, work, and the actual formation of new behaviors to transform performance. Again, the coaching process can help support this effort by encouraging:
* Seeking new outcomes by engaging in new thinking
* Forming new habits to address intransigent problems
* Setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) goals
* Engaging stakeholders by offering ongoing feedback and acknowledgment
* Sustaining the change with regular updates, touch-ins and tweaks
Yes, change is inevitable. Coaching gives us the tools that can help insure it will be inevitably successful.

What leadership skill(s) have you discovered in yourself helping your people through change?

© 2011 Jane Murphy, author of “What could happen if you do nothing?” A Manager’s Handbook for Coaching Conversations

About the Author:
Jane Murphy is a partner in Giraffe Business Publishing LLC and Giraffe LLC, a consulting firm that designs custom solutions to help organizations improve the management capabilities of their people. Jane also leads Giraffe’s coaching engagements, working with clients to solve business and leadership challenges. Jane has been principal and co-founder of several publishing ventures, including KIDVIDZ, which won numerous awards for its special-interest videos. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Rockefeller Foundation National Video Resources. She has co-authored several books, including “What could happen if you do nothing?” A manager’s handbook for coaching conversations(Giraffe Business Publishing). Jane speaks and writes regularly about coaching in the workplace.

For more information please visit Coaching Mojo for Managers and follow the author on Facebook.

Photo: Thayer School of Engineering