A conversation to help cope with change

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A conversation to help cope with change
A conversation to help cope with change

I’d like you to meet Nat. Nat runs the Accounts Department in a small engineering company. Until quite recently he reported to the founder and owner of the business, Valerie. They had a great relationship with few formal controls and Nat was free to do more or less as he pleased as long as the job got done. Around six months ago, Valerie sold the business to a larger engineering firm and Nat now reports to the new Managing Director, Glen.

Glen has become concerned about Nat. He sees him questioning the change all the time and longing for the ‘good old days’. Nat seems to have lost his focus and his staff claim he is becoming erratic.

Glen has invited Nat to join him for lunch in a quiet corner of the work’s canteen

GlenHow’s it going then?
GlenLook Nat, I know the recent changes have made you uncomfortable. The last time we spoke you said that you thought we were just becoming ‘busy fools’. You resisting things in this way makes me feel as if I’m not going to have your support and I need your support if we’re going to hit the revised targets.

Glen has recognized that before the real coaching work can begin there needs to be acknowledgement of an underlying problem. Some may have been tempted to start lecturing Nat on the wider issues, the drivers for the change and the improvements planned, but Glen realizes that he must demonstrate a willingness to listen to why Nat is showing resistance to change.

NatYou do have my support, it’s just that things are so different now. I’m always being asked to report back and I seem to spend every waking hour filling in new forms.
NatWell no of course not literally all the time, but there’s just so much more red tape now. It never used to be like this
GlenHow do your team feel?
NatI’m not sure really, they don’t say a lot. I’m sure they feel the same way.
GlenWhat do you think needs to happen?
NatI think it’s all been a bit much too soon. Perhaps if we could just introduce things a bit more slowly

Glen is encouraging Nat to explore the reality (and in a real life situation he’ll want to go into more depth) and he is now gently encouraging him to set his sights on a more positive aim.

GlenAre you being completely honest with me here Nat?
NatYes. Absolutely.
GlenOK. You realize that I have to follow new procedures too, but I do understand your concerns. What do you think we could specifically do?
NatWell, take the monthly purchase ledger stats for a start. Those figures are on the system anyway so it’s duplicating work… Could we not just stop that one?
GlenWendy asked for that but she may not have realized the figures were already available. Do me a favour and ring her directly on that one would you?
NatSure no problem
GlenWhat else could you try Nat?
NatWhen you asked about the team I realized I hadn’t really taken time to get their views. I’ll talk to them too.
GlenThat sounds like a good idea. Let’s talk again when you’ve had time to do that.

This conversation has not followed the coaching ARROW slavishly in any way, but all the steps are there. Glen has effectively used coaching to encourage Nat to raise his awareness of the things that are interfering with his accepting the recent changes. They’ll undoubtedly need further conversations, but they’ve made a solid start.

Matt Somers

Matt Somers

Matt Somers is the UK’s leading trainer of managers as coaches. His coaching skills training programmes, books, articles and seminars have helped thousands of managers achieve outstanding results through their people.

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