We have all read the articles on how our work lives are going to change post COVID-19. Maybe some of us read these with trepidation, while others embrace the change with enthusiasm, but we can all agree that it’s coming! So why not make it an opportunity for team engagement?
The ‘Work from Home if you’re able’ advice from the British Government was one of the biggest changes to hit the UK workforce across the board and employers and employees have managed that huge change with different levels of success.
And the physical change in terms of work environment is really just the tip of the iceberg; the world we live and work in has changed beyond recognition.
Now, as we approach the end of the COVID-19 government imposed measures, businesses are having to find new ways of working which enhance the business model, while ensuring teams and individuals continue to achieve and thrive.
How do we manage change?
Change is something that occurs not only in the workplace, but in every area of our lives and was something we were managing on a daily basis long before COVID-19 ever reared its ugly head. How well we have historically managed that change often depends on how involved we are in ‘it’:
Do we understand fundamentally why the change needs to happen? Have our suggestions and concerns been listened to? Have we been involved in the decision making and the rollout?
More often than not in our personal lives, we are the advocates of change. We are 100% supportive of the change because we can answer YES to those questions above.
Unfortunately, in our work environments, the answers to these questions are all too often ‘NO’.
Old working models have tended to rely on the ‘top down’ approach with this kind of information. Managers explain what is happening and why senior management have reached those decisions and teams are expected to be fully onboard and to execute the change in an enthusiastic and efficient manner!
It’s around this time that you can hear the whispers around the water cooler from disgruntled employees who really see nothing wrong with the ‘old way’ and honestly see no reason at all for why ‘things need to change.’
The take away here is that yes, change can be scary and take people out of their comfort zones. Our role as leaders is first and foremost to acknowledge this and listen with honesty and integrity to the fears, questions and suggestions of our teams. After all, our teams are normally our first line of action – no matter what business you are working within.
Coaching through Change
It seems to be fairly obvious that encouraging a more cohesive team would ultimately lead to better results and research tends to support this. Emotionally intelligent leaders who are able to successfully coach their team through change report that productivity rises by a massive 88% (as opposed to 22% who were given training with no coaching).
But coaching is also a skill that needs to be learned and developed. It relies first and foremost on developing and maintaining a real relationship with your team as a whole, but more importantly, nailing that relationship with each team member as individuals.
Becoming a coach at work is not so much a responsibility, but a privilege. It takes dedication and practice and it takes work, time, and commitment.
What is coaching?
In my training sessions, I find it so important to start with a shared understanding of what coaching is.
The purpose of coaching is to unlock someone’s potential to maximise their performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching or telling them.
To be able to coach someone you must believe that the individual has the answers to their own problems within them, so we are not there to solve another persons’ problems, we are there to help them discover their own solutions.
Of course, we all know that leaders are supposed to be there to guide us through change, but the success of this can vary greatly depending on the perceived genuineness of our leaders.
We have all had experience of talking to someone who is not really listening to us. They are unenthusiastic, insincere, and sometimes even cold. We feel like we are being disregarded, ignored, fobbed off. Life would be so much easier if we would turn around and take our grievances elsewhere!
And we all know the impact this has on our self worth, enthusiasm and loyalty to our leader and the company. We may mask it for some time, but ultimately our heart is not in any role where we do not feel respected.
A coach first and foremost has to earn the right to coach. Gain trust, develop meaningful relationships and foster an environment that values self esteem, authenticity, and honesty.
Once we have those foundations in place and can say, hand on heart, that our relationships with our team members are genuine, we can take a different approach to managing change and go back to those Three key questions ensuring the answer to each is a resounding ‘YES’ for every member of our team
This is no small feat and may feel overwhelming, but luckily businesses all around the world are waking up to the very real benefits that coaching achieves and help is at hand!