Posts Tagged ‘awareness’

A conversation to help cope with change

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Coaching Questions

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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

Glen How’s it going then?
Nat Alright
Glen Look 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.

Nat You 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.
Glen Always?
Nat Well 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
Glen How do your team feel?
Nat I’m not sure really, they don’t say a lot. I’m sure they feel the same way.
Glen What do you think needs to happen?
Nat I 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.

Glen Are you being completely honest with me here Nat?
Nat Yes. Absolutely.
Glen OK. You realize that I have to follow new procedures too, but I do understand your concerns. What do you think we could specifically do?
Nat Well, 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?
Glen Wendy 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?
Nat Sure no problem
Glen What else could you try Nat?
Nat When you asked about the team I realized I hadn’t really taken time to get their views. I’ll talk to them too.
Glen That 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.

Before you can change or improve anything you must increase your awareness of how it is now

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Coaching principles


Coaching Skills Series

This is one of many articles I intend to post this year considering the range of principles, skills and experiences you’ll need to be an effective coaching manager for the people in your team.

Here we consider the key coaching principle of awareness. Next time we’ll look at the thorny old subject of motivation.


  • How comfortable would you like to feel as you sit reading this post?
  • How comfortable are you feeling right now?
  • How much difference is there between the two?
  • What could you change to get more comfortable?
  • What are you going to do?

A quick coaching session using the ARROW sequence (did you spot it?) on increasing comfort. All founded on making you more aware of the state of comfort. Aware of the state of comfort that you have, aware of the state of comfort that you want and aware of what you can alter to get more comfortable. Coaching is all about change and improvement, but before we can change or improve anything we must increase our awareness of how it is now.

Try this. Think of an item you know well but that you can’t actually see. For example, if you’re sitting reading this in your living room, think about say, your alarm clock in the bedroom. If you’re reading this on the train on your way to work, think of say the contents of the top drawer in your desk. Grab a paper and pen and draw whatever item you’re thinking of in as much detail as you can. Think of every feature. Think of the colour, the shape, the texture and size and try to capture these things as accurately as you can. Now go and find the item in question and compare it with your drawing. You’ve probably missed some important details or got some features wrong. You may even have included some aspects that aren’t actually there at all. At a seminar I ran recently, I asked all the attendees to give me their watch at the start. Twenty minutes into the talk, I asked them to draw their watches in a similar way to I’ve asked you here. One guy was stunned. He’d carefully shown beautiful Roman numerals on his drawing only to discover there were none on his watch when I returned it. “I can’t believe I did that” he mumbled for the rest of the talk.

What this shows is how little use we make of our awareness in everyday working life. We move through the working day in a sort of daydream; we think we’re aware of what’s happening but in truth we are not. Think what might happen with our awareness increased. The things we’d see, the details we’d notice. We’d read other people’s reactions better and become much more sensitive as a result. We’d understand our own feelings better, be less susceptible to them and more able to take control. We’d notice the subtle differences in the tone of voice of our customers and colleagues as they respond to the content and style of our own communication. Things would improve just by a process of taking better notice; that’s all we’d have to do; it would be that easy.

Coaching brings about this state of increased awareness.