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Championing change

The very nature of coaching is the initiation of change so, as leaders, how can we encourage employee buy-in?

The very nature of coaching is the initiation of change through discussion so, as senior leaders who coach our teams, could we be forgiven for taking the change process itself for granted and, in doing so, are we missing a powerful catalyst?

Your company’s coaching development program would have provided you with useful models on learning cycles, adult change and roadmaps to guide the course of events during a session, but there is one, less cerebral, element essential to behavioural change, and that is a staff member’s motivation and drive to follow through.

Is it possible to have more constructive influence in that subjective space? Yes, absolutely, by enhancing our focus on providing the individual with the opportunity to engage their seat of passion and desire; the heart, as well as the head.

The degree to which an employee will implement and maintain a shift in behaviour is dependent on the degree to which they are willing to buy into the change, by recognising its innate value to their future professional success. Their desire must outweigh the perceived cost. We can assist them in their emotionally based buy-in in three ways:

  1. Create a safe climate
  2. Generate a ‘buying’ cycle
  3. Co-facilitate enthusiasm

1. Create a safe climate

Employees enter a coaching meeting subconsciously immersed in their personal system of ‘being’, complete with any protective walls to guard against potential exposure of poor performance or embarrassment, so an important component of our role is to work to build a relationship of trust and safety. That way, we can support them with a non-judgemental acceptance of the ineffective thought patterns, behaviours or emotions crying out for change.

2. Generate a ‘buying’ cycle

A staff member’s impetus to take on the ‘effort of change’ is personal and internal, and occurs through an integration of cerebral analysis coupled with heart-based desire. Enter our need to understand the psychology behind classic marketing techniques that move us in a seamless flow of thought towards an action to buy.

Here’s how the timeless ‘AIDA Model’ looks when applied to a performance coaching session:

A: Attention: Need

Help them identify a need for change (Generates conscious incompetence)

I: Interest: Features

Explore new options as potential solutions to that change goal (Generates curiosity and intrigue)

D: Desire: Benefits

Hold a visionary discussion around the personal/professional value derived in implementing a chosen solution (Generates motivation to attain benefits)

A: Action: Uptake

Stimulate their commitment to act and nail down a specific plan. (Generates strategic clarity, excitement and enhanced dedication to execution)

3. Co-facilitate spontaneous enthusiasm

Not all of us are natural cheerleaders, but stretching our comfort zones in this space is worth it. The expression of authentic enthusiasm is both powerful and contagious. It adds positive emotion to an employee’s effort to overcome their more negative, ineffective work habits. Confirming the value and importance of their attempt can inspire desire to reach even greater heights, embracing uncertainty as a doorway to opportunity.

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