Measuring the effectiveness of any coaching programme is fraught with difficulties because of the subjective nature of the engagement. Poorly planned programmes simply ask coachees to rate the relationship they have with their coach and the perceived quality of the advice they are receiving.
I encourage each of my coachees to establish measures of progress for the change programmes they are sponsoring, To keep thing simple I take my Sponsors through four stages of behavioural change, so that they can devise the questions they want to ask at each stage.
Stage 1 – Awareness
At the start of any change initiative, it is important that those who are impacted:
- Realise that they are impacted and that this is not something they can ignore
- Understand, at least at a high level, what aspects of their role will need to change
To achieve this awareness, the team responsible for the change and the Sponsor will need to communicate a lot, often repeating simple messages about the change. This is the start of the championing role for the Sponsor.
To assess if this first stage is underway, the Sponsor needs to decide if there is any ‘buzz’ about the change. Are people asking the Sponsor questions about the intended impact, the expected benefits, the scope or timing of the change? How many people are asking these questions? Is there involvement from across the community that is affected or just pockets of interest?
Awareness has to generate enough energy to take the change into the next stage. If there is an air of passivity, if the Sponsor gets the sense that those impacted think the change can safely be ignored, or have decided it is not important right now, then more needs to be done.
Stage 2 – Perception
Positive perception of the change is needed if people are to become involved in making it a reality. Everyone must find their own motivation for making the change a success, and this will not happen if they do not agree with the change. If they think it is harmful, that it doesn’t lead to an improvement in their current situation then they will sit on the side-lines (at best) or actively campaign against it (at worst).
Again, the Sponsor has to become sufficiently close to the situation to assess the level of support for the change and take responsibility for creating interest and excitement where none exists.
Stage 3 – Participation
When people support the change, they will be willing to get involved in creating it. The stage of participation is crucial, because until there is sufficient goodwill for the change, there will be too few people trying to make it a reality. There can never be a guaranteed level of sufficient participation, but experience tells us there has to be a significant majority in favour of making things happen before the change becomes an unstoppable force. Professor John Kotter suggested at least 75% of managers need to be on-board with new ways of working, and whilst I have never counted the exact number, I know that the more people who are looking towards a new destination, the easier it is to set a new course towards it.
Sponsors at this point need to ask questions about what people are finding out about the new ways of working, and really engage with the answers. Any scope that is immovable at this point means that there is no opportunity for those participating to shape the change. This means there is no motivation to pursue ideas and the change falls flat as people withdraw their goodwill. Effective sponsors continue to articulate the goals of the change but are willing to let those who are most directly affected establish all of the details so that the change is workable and practical.
Stage 4 – Adoption
This is the point at which the change is morphing into established practice. Sponsors need to alter their questions so that their attention is turned towards results rather than the level of involvement. These questions encourage people to realise how far they have moved from their old ways of working and to identify how the new approach is a better fit for customers.
In this environment of continuous change it is also important for Sponsors to ask for more suggestions of change, to generate an atmosphere where everyone is looking for the next improvement and the next big idea. By asking ‘what else can we improve?’ the Sponsor keeps alive the culture of involvement and participation that has achieved this change.
Using my extensive knowledge of the psychology of change and neuroscience for organisational transformation I help you design the communications that reassure staff and maintain their motivation and productivity during the transition to the new entity.
I provide advice and guidance for the executives leading the acquisition, in the acquired and acquiring organisations, using business readiness assessments to keep them appraised of the issues and suggesting solutions to overcome resistance to the change.
I work with those directly impacted to create new structures, new ways of working and a revised culture to reflect the ambitions of the merged entity.