Dave Spencer, April 2023
Many leaders have a desire to change or transform a business. Often motivated by a want to be more successful or as a response to external market forces, change is seen as the way to achieve this. But what is change? And how do you know where to start?
When planning for any journey it is important to understand your desired destination. What potential routes could you take? Where can you refuel or take a break? Is my vehicle fit for the journey?
Leading organisational change is no different; before starting out on a change programme it is important to understand what is the purpose of the change. What do you wish to achieve and is that aligned to your purpose? For example, if a wish to increase profitability is your overall purpose, then you may consider changes to the following to achieve that:
Quality of product/service
Efficiency of processes
An organisation is far more complex than planning a car journey and none of the above will exist in isolation. Changes in one will result in change(s) in another or elsewhere within your organisations system. Recognition of this in advance is important and demonstrates a full diagnosis of your organisation is required so that any changes are informed and aligned across the system as best they can be. Each organisation is unique but consideration of the following will provide a good level of data for your organisational diagnosis:
Processes (internal and those reaching out to customers and suppliers)
Personnel and the knowledge/skills they have
Relationships (internally and externally)
Organisational cultural influences
Behaviours of staff
Consideration of how the data is collected and analysed is important. Who is the right person to complete this task? As leader you may wish to be involved or direct it to an internal project manager. This is perfectly acceptable but you may want to reflect on how, as part of the organisation, impartial you (or your project manager) is in interpreting the collected data? For a comprehensive diagnosis you may want a broad spectrum of views from all levels/areas of your organisation as well as customers or suppliers. Other peoples perception of you and your position may influence how open and honest they are with you. This can contaminate the data within your diagnosis.
Working with a coach can provide that independence and so much more.
Nobody knows your organisation better than you and your staff so a coach won’t come in and tell you what to do. The coaches’ role is to help facilitate your thinking so that the changes you plan are yours; they recognise the nuances and particular ways your organisation works so are more easily embraced and adopted. As they are your plans you’ll have a string sense of ownership for them with a deeper level of commitment to ensure effective implementation.
So, what will the coach be doing? They will be listening to you. What you say? What you don’t say? What assumptions you are making? What you are avoiding? They will challenge you (and this may be uncomfortable), stretch your thinking so your understanding widens and support you create the change plans that fit your organisation.
The benefits to you are not just the production of an effective change plan, but having experienced the opportunity to think deeper and increase your understanding of your organisation you are better equipped to lead ongoing development.
An often overlooked aspect of leading change is the support leaders should provide to their staff in adjusting to and adopting practices to align with the changes. Working with a coach can similarly help you understand your staffs needs and how you can provide them with the necessary support. Additionally, your coach could work directly with your senior managers, teams or other individuals to directly provide that support as they adapt.
A final component that is often overlooked is that change isn’t completed on the go live day. Often, snags emerge that need overcoming and staff may need support in developing and maintaining the new practices. Working with a coach to answer questions such as, ‘ What is working? What is not working? What should we do more of? What should we stop doing? What can we adjust?’ a coach can support you and your staff incrementally improve that work for you ensuring the desired changes are implemented and sustainable. This in turn can lead to the cultural development of continuous improvement and innovation.
Dave Spencer is a Director at The Friendly Coach Ltd and has many years coaching and organisational development experience. If you would like an informal chat to discuss your situation please contact him via email email@example.com
The Friendly Coach Limited