At Cyma we talk a lot about how organisations need to be aware of the impact of new technologies on their business, and how they need to change in order to meet the new challenges that they face. As technologists, it is easy for us to look just at the technology. But organisations are more about people than technology. For any change to be effective it is important to look at the impact on people and how they can support that change. This blog takes a look at how you can do just that.
CHANGE: NOT A ONCE ONLY OCCURRENCEThere are many ways of positively implementing and supporting changes in organisational culture, and much that has been written about them (e.g. Michael B. Goodman, 2017; Mehdi
Khosrow-Pour, 2018). In this post, though, I’d like to consider the specific support that people are able to access that empowers them to make, and own, their own personal and professional shifts.
Change is not a ‘once only occurrence’ that means an organisation is all set for the future. Rather change is part of being responsive in a rapidly changing, global environment where it is almost impossible to keep current, let alone ahead.
In their bid to meet the needs of their clients and customers, many of the organisations that I work with invest majorly in innovation. However, innovation, without an overall shift in culture that recognises that their people need to be comfortable with ongoing change, is likely to be at best, marginally successful.
WHAT CAN GO WRONG?To grow a culture where change is the new normal requires “a new environment in which the majority … think in new ways, develop new skills and have new understandings of themselves as professionals” (Bolstad, & Gilbert, 2012, p. 43). It’s not as easy as it sounds.
Sometimes there is an uneasy dichotomy where the current culture of an organisation sits alongside innovations that require people to develop new ideas, approaches, and ways of working that they might feel they didn’t sign up for when they took the job. Also, where a shift in culture is heavily top down, or mainly ‘lip service’, often there is a sense of being ‘done to’. In situations like this, people may feel as though they aren’t being listened to, that their organisational knowledge is not valued, and that the change underway is ‘for the sake of change’. Throw in a new culture where change is an everyday occurrence, and this can send people into a tailspin that can result in anger, stress, and a decision by (often highly talented people) to move on. Alternatively, people can become disengaged, disillusioned, and/or (vocally) negative.
SUPPORTING PEOPLE TO BE COMFORTABLE WITH CHANGEIt rolls off the tongue: “a shift in culture“, but what does it actually mean for the people who work in the organisation? People will need to have the skills and mindset to be responsive, while also being comfortable with ambiguity (i.e. the range of factors involved means that there is no clear ‘right or ‘wrong’, but rather a decision needs to be made and evaluated - then tweaked, or abandoned, if necessary).
To support their people through the process of being comfortable with ongoing change, an organisation might decide to include coaching to support the different ways their people work and interact, as well as the way they build relationships with clients and customers.
In a nutshell, any coaching initiative should be:
for all staff no matter what role they have,
a combination of external and internal coaching (with consideration of how having managers as coaches might work in an organisation).
WHY COACHING WORKS WHEN CHANGE BECOMES THE NEW NORMALCoaching can help an organisation’s people identify what’s missing for them - and this might be something that is transactional (a skill set for example), or transformational (delving into what their role and relationships actually mean for them, and how they align with their own values).
MANAGING PROGRESSConversations that promote personal and professional growth, need to help a person manage their own progress (including accountability) (ICF, n.d.), often in the shape of setting their own goals. This requires a delicate balance between what a coachee has identified as important for them, and the requirements and values of an organisation (ICF, n.d.). Beyond the practical aspects of goal-setting, research indicates that setting, and evaluating, your own goals play a large part in sustained motivation and ongoing action, even in the face of emerging challenges (Bandura, 1998). The process of associating attainment of stated (valued) goals with self-satisfaction has a direct influence on “how much effort [a person]... expend[s]; how long they persevere in the face of difficulties; and their resilience to failures … [and these contribute] to performance accomplishments” (Bandura, 1998, p. 75).
RESULTSThe exciting thing is, when the experience of coaching is spot on, a person can move within an organisation, from a place that feels bleak, to one where, over time, they recognise that the initial situation provided a catalyst for incredible professional growth. However, it also pays to be acutely aware that change - especially in core beliefs and identity (as a professional and as a person) - takes time and energy, and is not comfortable. Patience is required to help ensure ongoing motivation, the celebration of positive growth when it occurs, and at all times the provision of “a mirror… to extend the...[a person’s] self-awareness” (Daloz, 1986, in Stokes, 2011, p. 8).
Over time, once a person has a clearer sense of identity and purpose, they are able to not only take advantage of, but also to recognise, a broader range of possibilities. In addition, they are more likely to be inclusive, open to learning, tolerant, and ready to make the most of change.
FINAL THOUGHTSWhen an organisation recognises that, to remain relevant, they need to make change part of the way they ‘do things around here’, coaching can be integrated into the culture. This will not only help people to develop into thought leaders and lifelong learners, but also give the whole organisation a common language and, increasingly, a common mindset that will help ensure they meet ongoing change with confidence...and enthusiasm!
REFERENCESBandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V. S. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human behavior (Vol. 4, pp. 71-81). New York: Academic Press. (Reprinted in H. Friedman [Ed.], Encyclopedia of mental health. San Diego: Academic Press, 1998).
Bolstad, R. and Gilbert, J., with McDowall, S., Bull, A., Boyd, S., & Hipkins, R. (2012). Supporting Future-oriented Learning and Teaching: A New Zealand Perspective. Wellington: Ministry of Education. Retrieved from http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/schooling/109306.
International Coaching Federation. (n.d.). ICF Core Competencies. Retrieved from http://www.coachfederation.org/files/FileDownloads/CoreCompetencies.pdf.