Research Paper By Cinque Parker
(Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
There is nothing permanent except change- Heraclitus
Change is constant and thus, must be continuously and aggressively managed. The stressors and pressures placed on corporations to maintain or make gains in market share is more challenging than ever as scientific and technological breakthroughs continue to accelerate and unfold on many fronts. This has shifted the competitive landscape, which has resulted in eroding profit margins, market share, and job security, similar to an aggressive form of “business cancer”. Thus, companies that are consistently ranked amongst the top within their industry must now change how they do business if they are going to survive. Companies who have established themselves at the top of the food chain are constantly at risk, leaving their leaders, management, and employees most vulnerable to being devoured by competitors that are clamoring at their heels.
In order to survive business leaders can’t wait until evolving technologies start to employ their effect nor can they afford to wait until they are faced with the real dilemma of having to deal with employees who have to figure out how they will feed their families, make college tuition payments or protect their retirement “nest”. You can imagine how things can go from bad to worst in no time. Better yet, imagine that the only reason why your company failed to exist 10 years from now was because it was unable to change. If only the dinosaurs could speak, extinct companies like Borders (books), AOL, and Blockbuster what would they say? Bottom line, in order to survive in today’s volatile market, companies and employees have to quickly and efficiently transition through change. While this may seem apparent and simple, according to a 2008 survey conducted by McKinsey & Company only 30% of change initiatives and programs succeed. This means that 70% of change initiatives fail, which strongly suggest that we are just not good at change both professionally and personally. Thus, the question becomes how can companies overcome the inertia, the desire to become comfortable with the status quoi, embracing the way things have always been just because that is the way things have always been and begin correcting this perpetual course failure? How can companies increase their competitive advantage in the market, decrease their risk for extinction, all while building an agile workforce that is readily able to change? The secret just may reside in hiring a leadership and development coach.
For leaders, coaching offers concentrated and confidential conversations that, according to authors David B. Peterson and Mary Dee Hicks, “[equip] people with the tools, knowledge, and opportunities they need to develop themselves” and this includes becoming more effective in all aspects of leadership, including change. This has implications for:
- Senior level executives who effectively spearhead change initiates
- Mid-level managers and other key stakeholders who are on the front lines and are responsible for the execution of change and; thus responsible for ensuring buy-in or alignment and
- Human resource professionals who must implement change management tools to assist these individuals with being more effective in their new role
Leadership coaches being on the forefront of change initiatives also allows for a more strategic, systemic, and model driven approach that affords leaders valuable space and time to focus on change initiatives as not only a defined outcome, but more importantly as a project that has a “pulse” and life that is rooted in the emotions of the company’s biggest asset, the employee. Leadership coaches can employ effective coaching practices for optimal outcomes, similarly to the following 3 tier process, which embraces this mindset:
REALITY, DISCOVERY and EXPLORATION
Change Readiness Assessment and Strategy
The first step is rooted in an in-depth analysis of the company’s current state, with the following critical outputs:
- Determination of key stakeholders- Who are the key players that will be most impactful to the change initiative and further, what are their roles and level of influence? This includes those key members that will serve as guides for the process (a guiding coalition), those that will assess and spread the work or implementation (change agents) and those that will be involved in its execution (key end users).
- Collection of Assessment Data and Feedback for a SWOT Analysis- This is an assessment of what the company is doing well versus what are the potential “landmines””:
Strengths: What does your company do particularly well? What change initiatives have worked well in the past and what were the elements that resulted in success? The key is to employ appreciative inquiry based on positive psychology and to leverage the company’s strengths.
Weaknesses: What are your company’s deficiencies and gaps? What change initiatives have not worked too well in the past and more importantly what were the lessons learned? How can these lessons be leveraged in future change initiatives? A company’s ability to successfully demonstrate lessons learned, when coupled with success stories, will create an environment of trust, which mitigates any resistance. The key is not to ignore your failures, but to address them and move forward through complementation or supplementation and/or corrective action. If you don’t have the support, find it and at any cost as I assure you the cost of failure will be significantly higher.
Opportunities: What are the opportunities that exist far beyond the change initiative? How can your company exceed expectations and plan for unimaginable victory?
Threats: What will hold your company back from achieving change initiative outcomes? How can these threats be removed or re-aligned in such a way that the resistance becomes an asset?