Only one, but the lightbulb has to want it!

Ok, this is an old joke, but how soon is it forgotten when we enter the field of organizational development and change management. When an organization wants to create a “culture change”, for example “create a coaching culture” or “create an agile transformation”, coaching is sometimes used as a tool to develop people into a direction that the management wants. Makes sense, that’s what they are paying for, right?

Ummmmm — the only small difficulty here is that it is impossible to “coach” someone into a predetermined direction”. If the coach (or leader) knows what the outcome should be, it is no longer coaching!

So what can you do as a coach when you are made immoral offers of the kind “please help change our employees to….”?

Ask about the desired situation:

  • If I did that, what would be different?
  • What would you see your people do that they are not doing now?
  • What difference would that make?
  • What would they be noticing (about you) that would tell them that it is a good idea to make the desired change…?

If you ask about the desired situation, chances are that your counterpart will see for him or herself that coaching is not what is called for

Explain that you as a coach cannot simultaneously create a problem and solve it and explain the basis of coaching.

  • Suppose people find out that I am there with your agenda in my backpack — how will they react?
  • In coaching we work on the client’s goals, not on an outside agenda. It rarely works when people feel like you are there on the bosses’ behalf.

Explore other options:

  • What is a goal that your people would agree to?
  • Do you think you can convince them that it makes sense to (be more of a coach as a leader / be more agile….)….?
  • Who could “create” the problem that I can then help people to solve?
  • How could people become aware of the necessity to change? What could make them buy-in?

Once you have an overall plan — you might still coach and have the clarity on the part of the sponsor organization and on the part of the clients that you will be working with voluntary clients who have a common project with you and their organization.

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