Before embarking on an enterprise-wide project, senior management should be aware of the challenges they might encounter. Some of these challenges include employee resistance to change, ineffective communication practices and poor prioritization of new initiatives.
Most companies are in a constant state of change, so developing and executing a change management plan should be a priority for senior executives. What is change management? It is the process of looking at the human side of a project. An organizational change management plan can increase the success of your large-scale transformation in several ways:
- Ensuring active and visible executive sponsorship of the initiative
- Dedicating specific change management resources and funding
- Ensuring frequent and open communication about the change and the need for change
- Encouraging engagement, support and participation from employees, middle managers and project managers throughout the initiative
One of the most effective of these strategies is seeking engagement, support and participation from managers. In other words, managers must be coached to become change leaders within their workgroups.
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The Role of Coaching in a Change Initiative
Change is a very broad term. It can be simple or complex. It can impact multiple departments or only one department.
Moreover, change can be seen as non-threatening or threatening. To this end, many leaders are resistant to change. Fear of change due to the unknown implications is a common reason why managers are so resistant.
To coach fearful managers to become confident change leaders, you’ll first need to understand some definitions:
Change Management Initiative
Any project or task that applies a structured approach to transitioning a company from a current state to a future state in order to achieve expected benefits.
Partnering with employees in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to reach their full potential within the context of the project.
A manager who creates awareness of upcoming organizational changes and encourages employees to move beyond their comfort zone.
A professional coach practitioner, who is employed within a company and has specific coaching responsibilities identified in their job description.
A professional coach practitioner, who is either self-employed or partners with other professional coaches, to form a coaching business and is hired by a company.
Leadership’s Role in Change Management
Leaders often struggle to understand their role in change management. Below are some examples of this confusion:
The Role of the Executive Team
Executives should not just view change as a “set-it and forget-it” project. Instead, they should actively and visibly participate throughout the project, so employees at all levels can witness executives supporting change.
It’s also important for executives to communicate to front-line employees the “why” behind the change. This is essential because employees are more likely to support a change if they understand the benefits to the company and themselves.
The Role of Managers and Supervisors
In the eyes of their employees, managers are the face of the change initiative. Therefore, managers should embody four specific roles throughout the project:
1. Communicator – Managers should leverage their interpersonal relationships with their employees to communicate face-to-face.
2. Advocate – Managers should be an advocate for the change initiative and motivate employees through their actions and words.
3. Liaison – Managers should maintain a feedback loop between employees and executives and/or the project team.
4. Resistance Manager – Managers should quell any resistance among their employees by responding with positive messaging.
How to Coach Managers to be Change Leaders
We recommend coaching managers to ensure they have the skills to effectively advocate for change. This coaching can take many different forms.
It can be an internal practice, in which internal coaches, or “company coaches,” use the specific coaching responsibilities outlined in their job description to educate managers on best practices, techniques and procedures to implement change. These internal coaches can be the managers’ direct supervisors, or they can be a subset of employees within a company’s HR department.
Alternatively, coaching of managers can be performed by external coaching sources, such as change management consultants. External coaches, like Panorama, are experienced in implementing change across multiple business domains.
Using external coaches is a particularly great option for a company that is seeking to train internal coaches as well. Hiring external coaches to train internal coaches can create long-term self-sustainability within a company—something that yields significant ROI when mapped-out for year-over-year objectives.
Educating managers how to be effective communicators and resilient leaders is the best way to instill confidence in their own ability to lead change. As most managers have experienced (or been a part of) unsuccessful change management throughout their careers, they must be provided with tools to successfully implement change.
Essential Tools for Change Leaders
1. Communication Training – Managers must be able to effectively communicate with superiors and direct reports. More specifically, managers must be able to clearly articulate to their employees the “why” of the project.
2. Resiliency Training – Change in business means there will be impacts on employees’ daily work and managers’ management practices. To navigate these impacts, managers must be provided with training in resiliency. Resiliency training teaches the mental, physical and emotional coping skills required to handle difficult work situations.
Why is Coaching so Important?
Being an effective change leader means knowing how to actively listen to employees, understand employees and ask questions to elicit important feedback. This type of leadership ensures employees support change and adopt new processes and/or ERP software.
Panorama’s change management consultants can help you coach managers to be change advocates who break down barriers impeding your project goals. Contact us to learn about all our change management strategies that enable faster benefits realization.