Coaching is a familiar word. There seem to be coaches everywhere, in sports, business, and even life coaches. Think of someone who coached you well. Identify what the coach did that was effective. Chances are, the coach kept you focused on the goal, pushed you to work hard, praised you when you did well, and gave you corrective feedback when you didn’t. This is essential when coaching people through change. As you might know from your own experience, people respond differently to change. Some people are eager to make the change, and others resist. In this article, Seth Coffing, a devoted coach, mentor, and leader with a proven track record, describes how to coach for change.
A Common Scenario
Let’s say you observe that an employee, Anthony, has not been keeping his workbench tidy. It is looking messy and there are empty drink containers, fast food bags, and old Lab Updates. You tell Anthony that his workbench isn’t up to standard. He says, “Yes, I’ve been meaning to get to it. I’ll do it before I go out.” Anthony cleans his workbench, and the next time you see it, it’s clean as well. But if you gave another employee, Brett, that same feedback, he might say, “Well, I’m busy. Don’t have time for housekeeping.” Anthony welcomes the feedback and changes his behavior quickly, and Brett doesn’t.
When someone resists change, it is easier to break through that resistance when you have a strong relationship with them. When you know someone, in this case Brett, well, you’ll probably have a good idea of why he is resisting the change in his behavior and how to deliver your coaching message to overcome his resistance. Howard Gardner, in his book Changing Minds, discusses the seven “R’s.” Resistance is an “R” that inhibits change. The other six “R’s” can help you change Brett’s mind about his behavior. If you know Brett well, you’ll know which one or two of the six will be the keys to reducing his resistance.
If you have built a trusting relationship with Brett, you might know that he is most open to changing his behavior when he reframes the situation and puts himself in someone else’s shoes. Brett realizes that he sometimes forgets how things seem to other people, so when you develop a coaching plan with Brett, you focus on supporting him in keeping an eye on the big picture and the assumptions others may make about him based on his workbench.
As you develop your coaching relationship with Brett, you take note to do all of the following:
Because you are confident in your ability to coach and you have built a relationship with Brett that lets you choose the best ways to overcome his resistance to change, both of you will be successful in changing behavior.
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