By Kristen Wright, PhD, Prosci, CSM and Laura English, MSIOP
For a change to be successful, one of the most crucial factors is strong leadership support (i.e., change sponsorship), reinforcing key messages, and actively guiding employees through a change. In fact, year after year, Prosci’s benchmarking studies have shown that active and visible sponsor engagement is the leading factor for change success.
As we’ve discussed this month, change is difficult and leading a team through change can, understandably, seem daunting. The phrase “it’s lonely at the top” can be especially felt by leaders at the top of the organization or even at the top of a group, who are asked to be visionary and strategic while also considering the needs of the individual employees. They feel the responsibility for being the caretakers of both external (e.g., customers, investors, board members) and internal (i.e., employees) stakeholders which can create competing priorities and can drain the leaders’ limited resources of time and emotional capacity. Leaders may experience a heightened sense of pressure, confusion, empathy and isolation because they feel ‘the buck stops with them.’ Unfortunately, when leaders feel uncertain or unprepared this can cause them to take a less visible role in a change, creating a cycle in which low sponsor engagement leads to low change acceptance, causing the change leaders to feel even less confident about their role.
However, this cycle can be broken. Having the ability to express this emotional impact and to build effective strategies for handling the pressure will help them to be more effective in connecting and communicating with stakeholders to meet with their individual needs. As part of Evans’ human-centered approach to change, we have found that one of the most effective ways to support leaders during a change is through coaching. Leadership coaches act as sounding boards, thinking partners, and ultimately resources for leaders to feel less alone in the challenges of being a leader who must consider the parts and the whole during the growth and change of an organization. Individual coaching sessions allow leaders to discuss their concerns and receive expert guidance on specific challenges. In a group coaching format, change leaders can discuss change progress and work with counterpart change leaders to determine if tactics for change need to be adjusted. This also gives them a chance to draw on their collective experiences, sharing knowledge and viewpoints to arrive at more nuanced solutions to their change challenges. Whatever format they choose, coaching is a great way to increase change leaders’ confidence and better prepare them to guide their teams through a successful change initiative.
To learn more about the Evans human-centered Organizational Change Management and Communications (OCMC) solution, visit us at EvansIncorporated.com and be sure to fill out our contact form to learn more about our services.