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Coaching and Culture Change PDF Print E-mail

Coaching and Culture Change - Frances White Executive CoachOur beliefs about change - how people change, people’s anticipated “resistance” to change, the “difficulty” of engaging people to create lasting change - all hold organisations back from moving in the direction which they want. Our modern fascination with immediate solutions, instant gratification, silver bullet type magic formulae for instant change also add to the problem of high expectations, changing goalposts and emotion-led decisions. When it comes to culture in particular, leaders often want people to be supporting new ways of doing things and they resent their clinging to the “old ways”. What they don’t often recognise is how much of the organisation is built on beliefs that align with those old ways.

Change occurs through leadership and a strong sense of shared purpose that remains consistent. Having worked with many large and small organisations going through various kinds of culture change, Frances has honed her approach to working with leadership teams to help them to create the organisation that they want. This mostly focuses on the “difficult” process of getting staff to understand, commit to and then work towards the changed organisation.

Culture change is best approach systemically, with plenty of time for reflection on the desired state - what is it we are really wanting to become, how will that be experienced by our whole community, including staff and customers, what will that give us and how are those things important to us. Once the leadership has decided what it is they really want to attain, this needs to be clearly articulated, along with the story of how everyone together can create and sustain that.

The rest is the result of good process design, allowing for plenty of involvement at all stages so that it is from within the organisation that the changes are generated, forged and sustained. Coaching, listening, facilitating, storytelling, thinking creatively, collaborating and robust process are all vital, including constant reviewing and reflecting on current experience, gathering feedback and working out sensibly what it actually means, in relation to the desired outcome.

Change is an inevitable part of workplace dynamics, of organisational growth and of life. Humans know very well how to change, when they understand clearly and want the changed state enough. The challenge is managing the whole journey in a way that is calm, considered, deeply thought through and constantly reviewed and in alignment with people’s sense of identity, values, beliefs and most important ideals and success criteria.

Leaders often need support and coaching to help them to learn to be more patient and consider the long view, rather than expecting instant trouble, instant change and instant achievement of “quick wins”, often focusing on these at the expense of the deeper change that needs to take place. It’s easy to start these change initiatives, often they are simply not really seen through as the focus shifts to the next new idea.


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