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Chapter 1: Creating a Process of Change


Coaching for change is about creating a process of learning that supports each individual's capacity to grow. Personal growth should equate with organizational growth. The corporate effect of individual transformation of performance should be enhanced organization performance, but this will only occur if the individual identifies with the overall goals of the organization.

The reality of this challenge is enormous; many organizations simply have not been able to achieve this alignment. This is due to a number of reasons:

  • the quality of leadership;

  • the silo effect of different functions competing or not communicating with each other;

  • the distance between the leadership and the employees;

  • the layers of management that get in the way;

  • the lack of sharing of information about the overall direction;

  • the willingness to admit mistakes, learn from the experience and move on;

  • distancing of human resources (HR), organization development (OD) or learning and development (L&D) from the business;

  • the focus on major IT implementation that is kept separate from the people development;

  • not fully exploiting the learning opportunities available through learning technology;

  • not sharing the learning from different parts of the business, reinventing the wheel;

  • not focusing first on the individual, then the team and then the organization;

  • not listening to feedback from the community, customers, suppliers, managers and employees;

  • not taking talent management seriously;

  • not being brave;

  • not being wise;

  • not being creative, innovative or championing those who think differently;

  • not accepting the challenges and opportunities presented by change.

We could go on; you can probably add to this list, but this is based on the findings of research that I have carried out over a number of years, while working with organizations or as background to the books that I have written. I am not saying every point on the above list occurs in every organization; however, there are equally very few organizations that will not have several of the above issues on their corporate agenda.

The opportunity exists therefore to help your organization rise to the challenge and really recognize what can be achieved by accepting that to survive it needs to do things differently. On a personal basis individuals can also feel threatened by change: it can make us feel uncomfortable; we put things off; we prefer what is known or tried and tested. In recent years we have seen a growth of interest in innovation and creativity, but we still have a long way to go in harnessing the talents of people who think differently and perhaps do not fit the corporate mould.

This resource focuses on how coaching can help in the change process; its application is at every level, from personal to team to organization. In this context coaching is about sharing knowledge, wisdom and experience to help in the development of new behaviours, attitudes and skills. Importantly, coaching has to be introduced or further developed into a climate that is receptive and recognizes how coaching can help with the process of change.

It is also about taking coaching seriously, not just putting it on to a menu of training, but embedding it into the fabric of the organization. Way back in time before training was ever thought of as a discipline, people coached. It was the first way that knowledge was transferred. It may not have been perfect and it may have started more as 'telling', but the more intuitive 'tellers' would also have listened, responded to questions from the curious learner and together they would have discovered how to do things and how to make advances in their primitive industries. Coaching today has the benefit of all those years of experience, but it does need a level of commitment to make it happen.

If you are part of an OD, L&D or training function you may feel slightly removed from the process of transformation. In some organizations, following on the wave created by BPR (business process re-engineering) or perhaps the introduction of a major HR or IT implementation, the people development implication can appear somewhat down the corporate agenda.

However, as more and more organizations are realizing that people operate the systems, focusing on enabling the individuals within an organization to transform their performance is an important role for all OD, L&D or training professionals to play.

Being invited to take part or persuading others to let you join will depend on your ability to become a real business partner. Unfortunately there are still too many instances where the learning profession becomes marginalized. In an operating environment, sending people on courses can be seen as a distraction. Engaging the learner in developing real skills to meet business needs, however, is still relevant and important; creating a coaching culture where wisdom is shared can be a positive contribution to transforming performance.

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