When things occur in the world of organizational change that are difficult, risky or complex, people often respond in four ways. Some will marginalize the required changes and attempt to keep the whole organization from confronting an issue. Others will divert the attention of those in management and leadership by broadening the agenda or by overwhelming an agenda with seemingly logical reasons for disrupting their game plan. Still, others will attack the leader personally in order to neutralize his or her message. Finally, some will seduce those in leadership positions with other projects that are much more likely to succeed. What ever the choice, the goal of all four of these actions is to reduce disequilibrium that could be generated when people need to address the issues brought up by organizational change. Furthermore, all four of the above actions, as noted by Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky in their book, Leadership On The Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading, Harvard Business School Press, 2002, will restore order and protect people from the pains of adaptive work.
One way to deal with these normal choices around the loss of the familiar is to improve performance planning, management and coaching. During routine one to one coaching time, we can create an environment where people can explore, define and better understand the problems they are dealing with as an organization, and then generate realistic and appropriate responses to change. We can also help them build better plans for the future.
Recognizing that adaptive problems may require all involved to learn new information in order to solve the problem, we must build coaching relationships where people feel safe enough to do this level of learning, especially if fundamental beliefs and patterns of work are called into question. New ways of thinking are difficult in the beginning. Having a thoughtful and helpful coach always makes a difference.
This week focus on being a better coach and helping people learn their way through change.