As someone who knows a lot about individual’s behavior change and organizational systems changes, I sometimes feel like an imposter. Over the past three years, I’ve researched, published and designed courses about change management. I have also become a mother, a full-time student, a business owner and a credentialed coach. And yet, despite experiencing significant personal changes, my attitude toward change has not significantly altered. Like most people, I still resist it.
Recently, the Human Capital Institute (HCI) and the International Coach Federation (ICF) conducted a study on change management and coaching. In our research, respondents identified coaching-related activities (e.g., one-on-one, team and work-group coaching) as the most helpful method to achieve change management goals and initiatives. Coaching-related activities are rated as more helpful than e-learning and classroom training.
Why? What makes this partnership work?
On paper, the change management process is linear, but the change experience is not. Sometimes change managers and leaders are guilty of oversimplifying this; they do not anticipate and plan for how change is experienced at the individual level. The motivation someone has to change increases and decreases depending on how much they need to change, their level of self-efficacy and how significant the change is to them. This is where coaching can help. Coaching is a powerful tool to identify and address individuals’ resistance to change, and it should be part of any major organizational change initiatives.
Where does resistance come from? Coaches have a skillset to address these common challenges:
- We fear we aren’t able to meet the new reality.
We are afraid of what that failure might signify about our own capabilities. This fear can be immobilizing and resisting change may look like procrastination, self-sabotage or discounting organizational initiatives.
To overcome this, coaches can address clients’ self-efficacy in one-on-one, team or group sessions; organizations can offer training and support; and leaders can encourage a growth mindset.
- We have insufficient information about the change.
Compared to the people most directly affected by a change, change designers, managers and sponsors have had more time to process and prepare for a shift. An organization-wide technology change may take months or even years of planning, but too often, changes of this magnitude are only communicated to users as it is launched, upending their daily routines.