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Managing Change

A director of a leading professional services organisation was promoted as part of a company-wide restructure involving the merger of two previously competing functions.

The managing director suggested the director embark on a coaching programme to assist her in; successfully integrating the businesses and adjusting to a new culture and management team.

Primarily used to a smaller operation and management team, the director’s record of achievement was highlighted by her open and inclusive management style, and well received by her team members. Normally confident and grounded in her capabilities to handle ‘new situations’ she was initially thrown by the magnitude of the integration.

This caused self-doubt to emerge, a first for the director, and it was further exacerbated by learning that others felt the promotion was not based on merit but circumstance. As a consequence, she started to over-analyse events, second guess her decision making, and began to worry or fear how she was perceived by others. This in turn was distracting her from focusing on implementing her strategy for a successful business integration.

This period of change also triggered memories of past successes and led her to doubt she could replicate these in a new and alien culture and environment. Shaken by these thoughts and unable to detach herself from reliving unsuccessful interactions in the new world, her thoughts started to negatively impact her behaviours, leading her to feel isolated from sub-functions within the region.

Impact of Coaching

Through coaching, she came to appreciate how her thinking and over-concern with others' perception of her had undermined her performance; she determined that, in turn, this had led to unhelpful behaviours and poor communication. It came into sharp focus that she was now in danger of sabotaging her career.

Following 6 x 2 hour, one-to-one coaching sessions lasting 8 months, she came to realise she had unknowingly and unwittingly resisted the personal impact of change, exclusively focusing instead on how change was affecting her team. By not recognising her behaviours and their impact on the very teams she was concerned about, she now realised that she was the catalyst for notably increased tensions amongst the team.

Taking stock of her reaction to the others, she freed herself from living in fear. Instead of focusing on what others may or may not think, she made time to listen to and critically analyse what she felt and thought. She sought counsel from trusted sources and obtained actionable feedback from a range of people. She realised the importance of addressing self doubt in an honest, creative and consistent way, and used a range of tools and approaches to restore balance.

With renewed confidence and a realistic approach to her abilities, she maximised the use of her strengths and adapted her thinking. Learning to stand in the shoes of the others helped her to soften her approach and to be more curious as to their preferred style of operating. Reaching out instead of withdrawing helped her to quieten her inner critic.

The coaching programme also enabled the director to strengthen her resilience and emotional agility, whilst successfully integrating both businesses.