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The Change Weary Organisation – Discovering the Power of Meeting People Where They’re At

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“Change fatigue” has become an accepted norm. Over the years, I have been struck by how so many organisations apply rigorous and best practice change management methods without building change resilience.

I feel so strongly about this that I decided to make it the subject of a talk I gave at the festival of learning held by one of my associate institutions.

I addressed the issue of perceived apathy and passive resignation towards organisational changes by individuals or teams, in organisations where people go through multiple changes over a sustained period of time, and the fact that traditional change management approaches are often felt to be failing. I also focused on how many organisations “go through the motions” when it comes to change management, waiting for the noise to die down, and filling offices with bright and colourful artefacts intended to drive home some key messages linked to the change.

One of the things I advocated was that individual and small group coaching can help build change capability in an organisation, by meeting leadership, project managers, individuals and teams “where they are at” in the stakeholder engagement commitment curve, before, during and after the change journey.

When I first started coaching, I became aware of the power of meeting people “where they are at” during a coaching process or conversations. As powerful as it is, it is also an incredibly difficult thing to do. To just listen and hear, to suspend judgement, to resist the urge to give advice – all these are learned behaviours and take time to develop. In a one on one and in a team context, these behaviours provide the conditions for building trust, so that over time, the coach can begin to challenge coachees more and help them expand their self- discovery and personal growth horizons.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the journey is – personal or organisational challenges, growth, change – skilful coaching can support all of these. There is something unique and truly powerful about just being met where you are at – and taking it from there.

By Beatrice Attrill

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