Whilst many people may wish that it didn't, life is all about change, and the business environment is no exception. Factors such as changes in consumer tastes, advances in technology, changes in legislation and the economic climate will all bring about the need for the business to change and adapt in some way.
For a company to achieve close to its maximum profit making potential, it needs to sell its products at a price which is as high as possible above the direct and indirect costs of producing those products, but not so high that it kills demand. For this, it needs to make sure that it is selling the products that consumers want to buy and at a price that is within their expectation levels, as well as planning ahead and implementing changes that will allow production costs to be kept at acceptably low levels.
A failure to change in accordance with what customers are demanding will lead to low sales volumes, whilst a failure to change in order to take advantage of things such as new technology can often lead to competitors stealing market share, either because they can utilise the new technology to produce superior quality products, or because it will reduce direct costs and allow the competitor to charge a lower selling price for the item.
During times of change, effective business coaching can help make the transition smoother, easier and less stressful.
There are different levels of change, which are also over different time periods. Companies which see surges in demand at certain times of the year such as theme parks in summer, toy manufacturers at Christmas etc, have short change management periods in terms of staffing levels and production runs. These short term variations are easy to forecast and a failure to adjust resources accordingly in order to take advantage of the busy times would be a serious management failure.
Longer term changes are much more difficult to predict, so the change management process becomes harder. Organisations must endeavour to anticipate change before it happens in order to be well positioned to take advantage of the new conditions. These long-term changes are not as easy to predict as short-term ones that come around at the same time every year. A recent example includes the shift in consumer spending more towards internet shopping than buying in the high street where the prices are often higher due to the costs of running the stores (rent, electricity etc.) High street companies which failed to see this shift coming and create a strong online presence in time have seen their profits decline or losses increase, in some cases to levels which caused the business to fold.
As stated above, effective change management will have an element of forward looking and forward thinking, trying to identify future trading conditions so that the company can position itself in time to take advantage of the new conditions. However, there will also be 'shocks' which require the business to change rapidly.
These shocks take the form of avoidable and unavoidable. The avoidable shock is a change where management should have seen it coming, often a substantial change which takes place over a period of years. The previous example of the change to internet purchases rather than high street shopping is an example of this.
The unavoidable shock is one where conditions change, often rapidly, due to an event which couldn't be foreseen. An example of this is a serious air accident which results in the authorities rushing through new rules which greatly affect the operators of the types of aircraft concerned. In an event such as this, rapid change must be implemented. The success of this is likely to depend on the strength and effectiveness of management, as well as the organisational culture and their willingness or readiness to accept and deal with change.
Generally, human beings are reluctant to change, due to the fear of the unknown and taking away the familiar. Even change for the better can be scary. It is likely that workers are already at least fairly happy with the current state of things, or else they wouldn't have taken the job in the first place, or would have resigned by now! Because of this, they are unlikely to embrace change with much enthusiasm. They feel safe with current working practices and relationships, particularly if they are friends (or more!) with their co-workers. They may also feel that they will be forced to do a new task(s) which they dislike.
Whilst change management is often about positioning the company to take advantage of future conditions, a common feeling amongst current employees is that if change is being implemented, then something must be wrong. They may fear that their jobs are no longer secure. If left unchecked by effective change management, this can lead to a nasty working environment of rumour, misinformation, low morale and low productivity.
In order to avoid the problems mentioned in the above paragraph, effective change management must be undertaken. One of the key factors in change management is effective communication. Employees may not understand why they are being asked to change, so communicating the need for the change is a way of bringing employees on board. Even if they do not agree with the views of the management, sometimes just being told why helps to give some purpose to the upheaval. Explaining the reasons may also help to quell any unfounded fears or rumours that may have started.
Employees are also much more likely to accept change if they are involved in the planning process. Whilst this may be more time consuming than change which is imposed on them by management, it may be worth it if it saves months or years of poor productivity due to low morale by disgruntled workers.
Evaluating the change also plays a crucial role in the change management process. When management began implementing the change, they must have had not only reasons for doing so, but also a fairly good idea of the desired outcome of the changes. Evaluating the results of the change once it has been completed and in place for a certain length of time will determine whether the changes have been successful or not, as well as highlighting any problems or remaining issues that need addressing.
Evaluation can take the form of both quantitative and qualitative measures. Quantitative improvements are easier to measure, and can be things such as the decrease in the cost of producing an item from £10 to £8. Qualitative improvements are a bit trickier to measure, but include things such as questionnaires which get workers to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how effective the changes have been in certain areas. If the objectives of the change were to improve motivation or something, having the employees take a survey both before and after the changes have been introduced will measure the success of the changes.
Whilst some workers will thrive on being given responsibility and empowered to conduct tasks largely under their own initiative, there will be others who will hate it and will much prefer being told what to do, when and how. Often this is because they are fearful of being held accountable if it is wrong, as simply following instructions allows them to use this excuse and shift all the blame onto the manager or supervisor in question. It also means that they are unlikely to make any suggestions for improvement or innovative ideas for the advancement of the company.
Just like workers can be different with regards to their attitudes, so too can managers. There will be some managers who prefer their employees to be like this, deferring to their instructions and not having them deviate from the path set. However, whilst this may sound like they will put their head down and work hard on their own, in reality they are likely to be back and forth to the manager or supervisor asking lots of questions regarding little details about the task. Although they probably could work a lot of it out themselves, they will do this to cover their own back so that they can then use the "Well you told me to do it like this" line if an issue should crop up later.
Whilst it is important for managers to keep some control and supervise the actions of their workers, it is not good in the long run for employees to be completely dependent on their manager for every detail of a task. Managers will often have other issues that they need to deal with and cannot afford to be constantly interrupted by the employee. If the employee cannot get the answers to their questions they may stop work altogether on the task until they can speak to the manager, which will greatly slow down progress.
So whilst there is the opportunity for mistakes, it is far more beneficial to all concerned for employees to be willing and able to take responsibility and use initiative and good judgement. Although it may be hard for them at first, and perhaps even for the manager, by engaging in regular business coaching and performance feedback it will hopefully be possible to change the worker's attitude towards responsibility and empower them to become more self-sufficient in certain elements of a task or project.
Business coaching provides the structure where the coach assists to generate the creation of the individual's own solutions. During this process the following occurs:
The process has a place everywhere, from the boardroom down through all levels of management (including new managers), carried out by professional coaches, who are able to think outside the company box and do not have company baggage.
This 'cycle' has been identified as a result of years of executive coaching experience, and incorporates sound and workable principles. We also understand that everyone has his or her own individual styles and preferences, so we are flexible enough to adapt to whatever circumstances we encounter.
Check on agreed action, review, analyse results, agree next step, practical input, options, commitment to next step, timeframes, initiate, review goals.
For more information regarding business coaching and how we can assist you and your organisation, please use the links at the top of the page to navigate around the site, and to view details of our open courses such as the ILM Level 5 coaching course. Alternatively, contact us by telephone on 0844 800 3295 or contact us online.
It is all well and good putting an employee in charge of a task and giving them the authority to make certain decisions and call upon the skills and resources of other employees within the particular department or business as a whole, but without informing other staff members of the change their attempts can often be met with indifference, resistance and sometimes even bare hostility.
This is because without hearing about the changes from management, workers who find that one of their colleagues begins giving orders or acting like they are in charge is likely to be met with an element of scepticism and incredulity. They may think the person has simply taken it upon themselves to take charge of a particular task.
Even if they explain that the manager has delegated responsibility for the task to them and it is believed and accepted, many workers are likely to be unsure about exactly how much they are supposed to cooperate with their colleague in terms of sacrificing their own workplace duties to do so, worrying that they will get into trouble if they do not get their own work done because they are assisting the employee with the project.
So a manager informing other employees of a person's changed job role is extremely important not only to inform them that they have indeed sanctioned such a change, but also to clarify how much or little assistance they should provide in terms of how it affects their own responsibilities and output. A failure to do so can be extremely damaging as it will inevitably result in confusion, arguments and poor team working amongst their members of staff.
In the article entitled How Does Business Coaching Identify Training Needs? we saw how business coaching can be used to address the concerns and worries of people who are being promoted, moved or even newly-recruited to the organisation who will be tasked with a completely different job role to that which they are used to or have ever performed before.
The doubts and uncertainties about what they will be required to do and the possible extra level of responsibility that is likely to ensue can lead to undesirable psychological health issues such as anxiety and greatly increased stress levels. It is important that managers and supervisors recognise and are aware of their responsibilities for monitoring and safeguarding the mental wellbeing of their employees along with the other health and safety dangers present in the workplace. (Related Link: IOSH Managing Safely Course).
But what about those who are simply finding that their job role is being altered and amended, rather than being changed to a completely different requirement? Do they still need business coaching?
The answer is that business coaching is suitable and beneficial for anyone. In fact, many individuals continue to receive business coaching and executive coaching long after any significant change or disruption because they find it so valuable for tackling smaller issues that occur for them at work, not to mention improving their effectiveness at their job which is the other major advantage and reason for receiving or providing workplace coaching to employees.
For more information regarding business and executive coaching, please click here to read all about topics such as becoming a business coach, one-to-one coaching, team building and development programmes, interpersonal skills training, sales training and much more.
Businesses should never stand still. If they do they are often left behind in the wake of their competitors in the chase for the custom of consumers and their disposable income. So it is inevitable that changes are regularly made to various aspects of the company, whether this is to the types of products that are manufactured and sold, processes, marketing, introduction of more automation rather than manual work etc.
Whenever changes are made, people will have to adjust and change with it in order to incorporate the new way of doing things. This is more than likely to require training not only to make them aware of the changes, but also how to go about their workplace duties going forward in accordance with these modifications.
Without training and clear instructions regarding the changes, workers will not know what is expected of them or what to do differently, and subsequently will either ignore the new requirements or, more likely, interpret them in their own way and probably do things which are not what management expected or required.
Changes to the workplace can also create new dangers, which means updated health and safety training is also imperative to prevent accidents and injuries.
Along with training to teach what is now expected of them, employees will also benefit greatly from business coaching which gives managers and workers the opportunity to discuss issues that have arisen because of the transition from one way of doing things to the new way.
Rather than sitting in silence or keeping problems to themselves, coaching provides a forum for managers and employees to discuss matters in a timely and constructive manner and get them resolved before they hamper operations. It also allows them to make any necessary changes to a previously drawn-up business coaching plan.
The majority of human beings are resistant to change at the best of times, and employees are naturally wary of any changes to their normal routine, particularly if they are happy and comfortable with the way things are at present. Whilst it might be for the benefit of the company, a number of them will be unwilling to adjust and may even be hopeful that the new changes will fail so that things go back to the way they were.
A failure to provide sufficient training and business coaching can lead to all employees making errors and mistakes, and taking more time to do things. This will then provide the ammunition for those who are opposed to the changes to argue that they are not a good idea and things should go back to the way they were, when in actual fact the alterations would be beneficial for the business if everyone knew what they should be doing and were fully up to speed with the changes.
The most successful programmes of business coaching are those which comprise many sessions at regular intervals over a long period of time, sometimes on an indefinite basis. This is because rather than just being given a load of information all at once as would be the case on a training course, business coaching typically involves the creation of action plans and regular evaluations of progress made, or not made, as the case may be.
In order for evaluation to be effective, sufficient time needs to pass in order for the person to be able to implement the changes which they and the business coach have discussed. There also needs to be a passage of time to determine not only how well the individual has managed to implement the changes, but also to view, analyse and assess the effectiveness of these changes in achieving goals which were also discussed and stated at the initial meeting between the coach and the coachee.
This shows why providing business coaching and mentoring facilities to employees, or even yourself for that matter if you are a manager or executive with the authority to arrange it, should be viewed as a long-term investment in development rather than a quick fix solution to problems or issues. This is one of the key differences between business coaching and training courses.
Implementing plans and assessing their effectiveness is crucial for progress, but it may be the case that as time progresses there is a change in circumstances which mean that the original targets and objectives which were developed during the initial meetings between the individual and the business coach are no longer relevant, or at least need modifying in accordance with the new situation. Reasons for this can include:
The potential for unexpected changes for both the business and the individual concerned, not to mention a natural evolution of change in the business world as new opportunities, technology etc is introduced means that goals and methods of achieving them will need to be adapted and refined accordingly. As the programme of business coaching will likely be run over a long period of time, the coach and the individual need to be flexible and open to changes to the original plan rather than sticking rigidly to it come what may.
In many occupations such as politics for example, making changes from an already stated plan can be viewed as a sign of indecisiveness, confusion, nervousness, or even deliberately misleading. However, continuing with the same course of action long after it becomes clear that it is incorrect just to save face has led to numerous disasters throughout history; whether it be a king leading his army into a hopeless battle or a company chief executive insisting upon completing an unsuitable merger.
No matter if it is businesses, battles, or any other ongoing activity, an unfolding sequence of events will rarely (if ever) proceed exactly as envisaged, and will require an adaptation of previously thought-out plans. In some cases an unexpected event, even a favourable one, may require a complete change and deviation from the plan.
Whilst most managers and leaders will find it easier to make changes when the need arises as a result of a favourable situation, when things are going wrong and there is a requirement to alter the original plan, many will flatly refuse to do so as they may believe that others, or even themselves personally, think it is an admission that they were wrong, and that continuing is the only way to prevent embarrassment.
The reality is though that failing to alter course can ultimately be far more damaging both to the person themselves along with those around them. Rather than viewing it as a weakness or admission of an error of judgement, a leader needs to view deviations or even complete about turns from the original plan as a necessary adjustment brought about by changing circumstances.
Not only will business coaching sessions help with devising the original action and development plans for making adjustments to working practices or dealing with certain situations, but it will also help managers, executives and leaders understand that backing down from a course of action which they have taken is not only nothing to be ashamed of, but is in fact vital for the prosperity and success of the company in the long term. Blindly continuing with the stated course of action just to avoid embarrassment could be ruinous for the organisation, which will in fact cause much more embarrassment and consternation towards themselves from colleagues and employees within the company.
A key takeaway of any business coaching course which helps people to become coaches is that business coaching is not meant to be easy. Future coaches need to keep in mind at all times that they need to challenge and ask difficult questions of the person being coached or mentored. Only then will positive changes be made which break down the barriers that are preventing the individual from reaching their full potential.
The BCF Group have evolved from the Business Coaching Foundation, which was established in 2001. We have leadership development and business coaching at our core. Having representation from global learning leads, executive coaches and talent development specialists, we deliver accredited people development programs.Find Out More
Please see below for some related courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:
The ILM Level 7 Qualifications for Senior Level Coaches and Mentors are designed for senior leaders/managers (or those working in a training and development role) who are regularly coaching or mentoring at a senior level.
It is for those executive coaches who wish to accredit, validate or enhance their skills with an internationally-recognised executive coaching qualification.
Based on our extensive work and experience with leaders, both in the private and public sectors, this ILM Level 5 Coaching and Mentoring programme has been designed to develop the capability of leaders to positively impact the performance of individuals and teams.
This programme has been created to sharpen a leader's skills - enabling them to balance control, commitment and empowerment through productive conversations with individuals and teams.
This two-day accredited management training programme brings together the key leadership skills you need to be an effective manager so you can return to the workplace, deliver tangible results and help your teams reach their full potential.
It covers problem-solving, decision making, workplace communication and leading, and motivating teams effectively, among much more.
This course has been designed for those who are new to management or who are about to take up a management position.
Run over a single day, the course covers a wide range of topics to give new and inexperienced managers a good understanding of the foundations needed to begin their journey as a manager.
It includes modules on communication, managing your team, managing yourself, delegating, setting objectives, planning and personal development.
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