Helping People Change

2021 marks 34 years in the Change Management profession for me and I am still learning how to help people change. It is an endlessly fascinating subject. I never cease to be amazed at the creativity that is unleashed when someone is confronted with a challenge to change. The reasons why they cannot lean into this challenge are seemly endless!

This is not true for everyone. Many see the power of working close to the edge of their comfort zone and experience the magic that happens when they take a step outside this zone and summon the courage to try something new.

I came across a fascinating book on the topic by Richard Boyatzis, Melvin Smith and Ellen Van Oosten – subtitled Coaching with Compassion for life-long learning and growth. The key message revolves around the premise that coaching for compliance produces behaviour change that is at best temporary, whilst coaching with compassion can lead to lasting change.

As you would expect from authors who inhabit the rarefied atmosphere of academia, the book goes into great detail around the research they have done to back up their thesis. The key take-outs I gleaned were as follows:

Excavating Personal Vision is a critical 1st step – In tune with many experienced and qualified coaches, I recognise that the agenda for any coaching session has to be set by the coachee. It is working on areas that they want to work on that drives the sessions. What coaching with compassion amplified was that most of us look to identify a gap in our skills, knowledge and capabilities and these gaps are often imposed from outside – from 360 feed-back; self-diagnosis tools; job role competency frameworks and the like. All laudable insights for sure, but not always aligned with our dreams and aspirations.

Reflecting on what real happiness is for us, and what an ideal life can be, is not something most of us spend much time contemplating. We are all too busy dealing with the challenges current reality serves up most days. So, when asked to think about what our ideal-self and personal vision is, it is not surprising that we are not that skilled in doing so. We all need help to initiate and then structure our thinking, and that is where a compassionate coach can add real value.

Psychological Safe Environment – It is important that you feel safe in the relationship you establish with your coach. Coaching conversations should be thought provoking, and follow a creative process that inspires the coachee to become the best they can be. They are strictly confidential, the aim being to stretch and grow not to judge and advise. Indeed, keeping the Advice Monster under lock and key is one of the most stretching aspects of coaching work.

Professor Boyatzis shares in the book his model for Intentional Change. There are 5 aspects to his model, they are:

  1. Develop a compelling picture of your Ideal-Self and craft a personal vision.
  2. Understand your Real-Self and then
  3. Derive a personal learning plan
  4. Focus on the habits that need to change to nudge you towards becoming your ideal self.
  5. Find and use your coach, mentors and advisers to establish resonate relationships that can help you through the personal development journey.

Helping people with this personal development work is a great privilege and I am grateful that I can work in this field with many of my relationships and key clients.  If you would like to discover more about this please do not hesitate to contact me.