How executive coaches can support organisational change

support org change

CEB Global recently released a well-publicised whitepaper on issues with traditional top-down change management processes and the benefits of an inclusive, employee-driven approach.

The whitepaper sets out a compelling case for inclusive change management, with findings including the following:

  • the average organisation has undergone 5 significant changes in the previous 3 years, including restructures, expansion and leadership transition. This frequency of change highlights the need for ongoing, adaptable change management processes rather than one-off approaches.
  • of 400 change initiatives reviewed in the whitepaper, based on self-reporting by the organisations, only 34% were rated as clear successes, with 50% identified as clear failures.
  • surprisingly, the majority of employees report that they are willing to adapt their own behaviour to support organisational change.
  • despite this willingness by team members, previous restructures have created flattened management structures with complex interdependencies and multiple reporting lines, meaning that change in organisations is less able to be managed by a top-down approach now than in the past.

How can executive coaches facilitate successful organisational change?

An executive coach can be a powerful catalyst to help leaders examine how they can be more effective, especially in times of organisational change. By working with senior management to help them understand better when and how to delegate well, executive coaches can facilitate improved leadership in flattened management hierarchies.

In a flattened hierarchy, a top-down management approach can easily become a command-and-control approach. Research has shown that this model of management is ineffective. In our experience, command-and-control stifles creativity, undermines trust and demotivates staff. This in turn risks the success of the organisational change.

Some leaders feel such a sense of responsibility, they believe they can’t afford to delegate. In times of change, however, appropriate delegation is vital:

  • if leaders don’t delegate, their business will atrophy and they risk collapse themselves.
  • if managers don’t trust their staff, staff are unlikely to trust their managers.
  • if staff don’t trust the leadership, they won’t trust their communication, particularly when times are tough.

In times of change, people can find communication very challenging. Are staff members hearing the message the executive wants to give? If not, what is impeding good communication? How could it be improved? An executive coach can work with leaders on whether their communication with staff about the change is working and how it can be enhanced.

An executive coach can help a leader take a new look at the resources they have at their disposal. Not every good idea needs to come from the leadership group; and this is as true about organisational change as it is about other aspects of business. Are aspects of the change being resisted by team members? What are their reasons? Could they be right? Could your team see a better way of achieving your objectives?

Finally, in times of great change, some people feel they don’t have time for a coach. In our experience, this is one of the most important times to use an executive coach to make you a more effective leader.