Change Management of the Coaching Journey: Calibrating Communication to Key Stakeholders

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Coaching is a project that involves major change, and the change needs to align with the objectives and needs of different stakeholders and stakeholder groups. Sometimes these objectives and interests could be at conflict. Therefore, as the number of stakeholders involved increases, the risk of successfully delivering the coaching engagement and satisfying stakeholder expectations increases.

Stakeholders are the individuals and groups affected by and capable of influencing the change process. Different stakeholders can perceive the same change in vastly different ways depending on their expectations of the enterprise, vested interests, previous experience with change, existing pressure of work, interests and affiliations, or their particular characteristics and priorities.

Key individuals and groups could include the Coaching Sponsor, Senior Management, the Coachee, HR and Leadership Development Team, champions of Coaching as Leadership Development Intervention, and many others.

There could be external stakeholders like customers, and vendors, and where relevant, it would be useful to understand their needs as well.

Stakeholder Management begins at the stage of choosing Coaching as a Leadership Development Intervention and continues throughout the coaching journey.

Possible Stakeholder Needs and Requirements in a coaching context are tabulated here:

Role Issues and Needs
Sponsor * How does executive coaching compare with training?
* Does the coaching relate to my business and leadership needs?
* Are my leaders ready for coaching?
* How soon will I know if the intervention is working or not?
* How will the intervention be measured?
* If it fails, what are my alternatives?
Coachee Leaders * Is the intervention the organisation’s feedback to me – that I need help to deliver?
* Do I like and will I be able to work with this Coach?
* What is the Coach’s value-addition to me?
* Can the Coach relate to my work, background and circumstances?
* How structured is the Coach’s approach to coaching?
* What is the formal rigour behind the coaching?
* How much time do I need to spend on this coaching?
* How will it impact my day-to-day working?
* How will my progress be measured? What will I receive at the end of each session?
Senior Management * Is this as per the overall policy of leadership development?
* How critical is it to the strategic needs of the company?
* What are the alternatives? How do they compare with executive coaching?
* What is the reputation of the vendor firm and the Coach? Do they have a proven track record?
* What is the financial commitment and the return on investment?
* How ready and willing are my organisation and the Coachee leaders to implement changes that emerge from the intervention?<
HR * How does the intervention align with the organisation leadership development programs?
* How does it compare with alternatives like training? What are the pros and cons?
* Are the approach, methodology and progress measurement sound?
* What is the quality of the Coach? How relevant is the Coach’s experience for my organisation?
* What is the senior management commitment in implementing the necessary changes?
* What are the program management and communication processes?
* What is the cost of the initiative and justification for the money spent?
* What is the financial implication of extending the intervention to all leaders?
Finance * What are the contracting terms and conditions?
* What are the budget and the financial implications?
* What is the cash flow?
Senior Management Champion of Coaching * Do the vendor and Coach have the rigour and commitment required to ensure success?
* What is the commitment of the Coachee leaders to the process and the change?
* What is the commitment of senior management and the sponsor for the initiative to succeed?
* What is HR’s commitment to the initiative? Will there be active participation?

Addressing these issues and needs is not limited to the contracting stage. The stakeholders need to be assured throughout the process that their issues and needs are being addressed. The Coach needs to proactively calibrate communications to address various stakeholders’ needs. Such communication will ensure their active participation in the coaching journey. Such communication will also ensure that they take remedial actions where necessary, to minimize their organizational risk.

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