CULTURE IS HOW WE DO THINGS AND TREAT PEOPLE
How long will this take?
Culture change is a multi-year initiative. My experience is that the culture can show early signs of shifting toward more open, feedback-based coaching conversations within a few months. It takes a critical number of visible leaders to be open and transparent about how they are changing. That fans the flame of the new approach to interpersonal communication. The new approach becomes as comfortable across the team as it becomes comfortable with the senior leaders.
Since this is a developmental strategy, not a training initiative, it should be continued in the most cost-effective way (with certified internal facilitators) until it is deemed fully embedded and part of our way of life.
Why do leaders go first?
If the process is not leader-led, it simply disappoints everyone. Leaders don’t see what they hoped for; HR sees the same continuing issues with employees; performance on strategic goals or organizational challenges don’t feel renewed. To the extent that the most visible leaders are conscientious about their behavioral change—and are transparent about what they have learned and how they are attempting new behaviors—that stands as proof that culture shift is starting. Of course, behavioral change must be sustained and deepen to become part of the cultural fabric. That is senior leaders’ accountability.
It’s too complicated—we only need 3 steps.
There is no effective coaching model worth its salt that consists of 3 simple steps. This is a deeply personal, interpersonal communication with various aspects that require delicate and sensitive treatment. Our methodology de-mystifies the whole thing. Once people are reminded of the various parts that make communication effective and learn how to compose an effective conversation, it becomes second nature.
Behavioral change is too hard.
That is the name of the game—effective coaching between colleagues most probably requires us to enhance/change the way we interact and be willing to try new behaviors. We’ve all heard that “insanity is hoping for different results while doing the same things over and over.” That said, we offer the most effective support mechanisms to support people changing their behavior—a little bit at a time—and proving to themselves that those changes are effective and worthwhile.
It’s too costly to hire you all the time.
That’s why we frequently certify internal facilitators who deliver coaching workshop inside their culture. This allows for very cost-effective solutions, plus internal facilitators are partnered with senior leaders and custom-tailor the content and delivery to specific audiences. This makes the learning even more relevant and helpful for all.
We tried coaching and it didn’t stick.
This is surprising only if you thought you actually had full buy-in and role modeling from the senior leadership team. It’s all but impossible for coaching to not stick if this high level of ownership was present. The key to success is whether leaders embrace the approach and skills embedded in the Transformational Coaching roadmap and consciously attempt to use them. If leaders show up “coachable” and gracious about receiving feedback, appropriately responding to coaching and feedback, this process will work.
What results can you guarantee?
I can guarantee that the culture will change in tone and energy to the extent that leaders get onboard and make this communication process their own. If they wait for teams to make it happen, for HR to roll-out to everyone, or for the next Employee Engagement Survey, they will miss the boat leaving the dock. When that boat launches, it is up to each person to row with the oars they have from wherever they’re sitting. When everyone is onboard and able to communicate effectively, much greater performance is predictable.
By Tim Decker, Director
Children’s Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services
Jefferson City, Missouri