The Coaching of Change
“The only constant in life is change.”
You may have noticed that change has been a reoccurring theme in my posts and that’s not an accident; change is EXACTLY what I help my clients to do.
I coach people through a desired change, people undergoing an enforced change, and others who are in the process of planning for a change in the future.
Whether it be supporting people who are completely changing their careers or working with organisations and individuals who are undergoing changes to their teams – bottom line – it’s all about transformation.
And it got me thinking:
Why Do I LOVE Change?
Honestly? I think I’m just a bit weird.
It’s ok. I’ve come to terms with it.
I adore everything about change. I seek out variety in most things and I find the predictability of work boring. I always crave a challenge and thrive on supporting people to make the changes they want to make. In my line of work, because I meet so many people who fear change, I’ve come to realise my feelings on the matter are in the minority.
Why Do People Resist Change?
We are the product of our environment and having a bad experience with a workplace transformation will always make us more hesitant to embrace change in the future.
But according to psychologists, much of our resistance to change is actually down to the primitive part of our brain. As humans, we are hardwired to:
React to threats – any deviation from the norm in our career can be a risk to our livelihood.
Be Superior – we are socially insecure creatures and being superior makes us feel in control of a situation.
Want be liked – this harkens back to caveman times when not fitting in was a matter of life and death.
Be consistent – we are creatures of habit. We also like things to be easy and require minimal effort.
(Kerry Freeman, RBS Head of Change)
Considering that all of these pre-determined behaviours fly in the face of change, it’s no wonder so many people just put up with where they are in their careers or resist organisational change.
“The art of life lies in the constant readjustment to our surroundings.”
We Must Learn to Embrace Change
Not all change is good, I’ll give you that. But how we choose to handle the changes we face can determine how affected we are by the outcome.
Welcoming change, or at least keeping an open mind to the possible outcomes a change may bring about, allows us to wrap our heads around the situation before we’re living it.
“Change before you have to.”
Resistance to Organisational Change
Individuals who dig in their heels or bury their heads in the sand when it comes to organisational change will often get left behind.
Business is about progression and organisations won’t stand still just because employees fear change. I have seen far too many situations where individuals have become outsiders after they refused to adapt to organisational changes.
When facing change, the art of reducing resistance amongst employees is all in the delivery. How the idea of change is presented to an individual and how well they are guided through that transformation is key.
“Change comes more from managing the journey than from announcing the destination.”
A solid leader will readily facilitate changes in their team and be an agent for change – but as we’ve already discussed, welcoming change doesn’t come naturally to most people and that can affect leaders too.
Having people in charge of change who both embrace it and then understand how to overcome employee resistance, is fundamental to the success of any workplace transformation. That’s why organisations employ my services; I ready their leadership team for the challenges presented by transformation.
Executives are of course all very different and their strengths vary, so it’s my role to support their thinking, challenge their biases and hold them accountable in order to develop into leaders who can successfully manage organisational change.
When We Resist Making Changes in our Own Careers
It was the late self-help author, Wayne W. Dyer who once said ‘change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”
When it comes to managing transition in our lives, perspective is everything.
We all have an image of the working world and how and where we fit into it, but pigeonholing our opportunities in such a way often dissuades us from pursuing our dreams.
“If you accept a limiting belief, then it will become a truth for you.”
I’ve touched on limiting beliefs in previous articles; these are beliefs we develop in childhood, through personal experiences or the experiences of others, which can hold us back.
Some common examples are:
I’m too old/young.
I’m not smart enough.
I’m not worthy.
I didn’t go to private school.
I’m too busy.
I don’t have enough experience.
That’s just the way it is.
As your coach, I would work with you on any limiting beliefs you hold, help you to understand where they came from and if they are standing in your way, challenge them.
Many of my clients don’t even realise they have such biases until we sit down and start to discuss their plans. Limiting beliefs can be so ingrained in our psyche, that they affect our decision-making at a subconscious level, and dispelling them can be incredibly freeing.
“Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.”
Not having confidence in our own abilities or having low self-esteem are two other common reasons why my clients may have resisted change. The feeling of not being good enough, a feeling which is usually propped up by limiting beliefs, is paralyzing when it comes to our careers.
I work with my clients to bolster their self-esteem. Our sessions allow them to take a voyage of self-discovery in a safe, supportive space so that they can truly understand themselves, their vision, and what they need to work on to get there.
Once their self-esteem is healthy, self-confidence follows.
“Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears.”
The ability to implement and manage change is within us all, but sometimes, we get in our own way. Here are some further examples of how we can unknowingly hold ourselves back:
Negativity Bias: We all have a propensity to recall negative experiences over positive ones. It’s important to be aware of this when considering options so we can balance our views.
Inner Critic: We’re all a little guilty of this, but being over-critical of ourselves can be damaging to our self-esteem.
Risk-Averse: Many reasons can hold us back from taking risks and career changes are right up there in the ‘stakes’ department. Knowing how to mitigate risks and manage any potential fallout is key. It’s all about being prepared for change.
Cognitive Distortions: These are exaggerated and irrational thoughts th