Dr. Kotter’s eight-stage process provides a whole lifecycle model for implementing successful transformational change.
But could it also be applied to coaching for performance and development? Let’s review a few of the stages and find out…
Establishing a sense of (personal) urgency
If you are unable to ignite and sustain the need for change within a team member, you’ll likely experience the old adage of leading a horse to water but being unable to make them drink. The same sins of complacency and a false sense of urgency which throttle change efforts within organizations also exist within individuals. How many times have you heard a team member say “I think I’m doing a good job” or “Look at all the work that’s on my plate!“?
Taking staff out of their comfort zones by exposing them to objective feedback from stakeholders outside of their immediate circle or defining performance targets which require a real stretch are just a couple of ways of creating that true sense of urgency required for personal growth.
Developing a (personal) Vision and Strategy
While staff should be primarily responsible for their personal development, a good people manager can help by challenging and refining the end state and by helping them to define realistic strategies to achieve that end state.
If a team member needs to improve their influence and persuasion skills, it is of little use for a manager to just tell them that. The team member may have no idea as to what that means or how to get there, and if left to their own devices, might proceed down a path of self-improvement which leaves them worse off.
On the other hand, if the people manager communicates a simple but powerful vision of what improved influence and persuasion looks like and helps the team member by challenging and whittling down potential strategies, they are setting up their team member for success.
Generating Short-Term (personal) Wins
With transformational changes, it is crucial to realize some tangible successes early on to ensure continued sponsorship and to keep people focused on achieving the end state. Without this, interest and support for the change are likely to fade over time.
An individual team member’s journey to achieve development objectives might be equally long and arduous. In such cases, it’s a good idea to encourage them to define milestones along the way to provide them with positive reinforcement and to keep them engaged in their development process.
If the challenges with transformational change within organizations also exist when helping our team members develop, good practices for change management can also be applied to coach for performance.