Last week, we began walking through three types of organizational culture change. Following a culture of simultaneous growth and cost cutting, there are two additional areas of culture change.
Culture of company mergers
This is probably one of the biggest challenges I had in my HR career – helping to take three different company cultures and merging into one new organization. These were companies that had existed independently for several decades and had developed their own cultural “stamp,” and employees had an allegiance to their specific culture.
As an HR leader and a coach, it was critical to work with the executives to ensure they were “sensitive” and respectful of each legacy company’s attachments to its cultural norms. Additionally, it was important to create a new organizational culture, with which the employees would develop a similar feeling of pride and commitment.
Coaching leaders to “go slow, to go fast” is a great challenge. A coach has to help the leadership explore the benefits of this approach and the potential consequences of moving too fast through the change, preventing employees from taking part in creating and buying into the new vision.
This is most challenging for a coach when the executive team is comprised of leaders from all three companies. Having the CEO’s ear, trust and openness are most important for the coach. The coach has to stay focused on what the CEO wants to accomplish with the combined company vision and continue to leverage the coaching process to achieve those goals. While the coach is still primarily a listener, the coach also becomes more of a sounding board for the “what if” scenarios explored by the executive team.
Culture of Employee Disengagement
When a leader has a low performing (disengaged) team, it is important for that leader to be open to the fact that she may be part of the problem…and most certainly has to be the key driver to the improvement.
In this environment, there could be numerous factors for low morale and performance, so the first step is for the coach to help the leader get to the root of the problems. This can be a challenge for the coach, as many times the leader unknowingly may be a contributor to the low morale – i.e. lack of strategy, poor communications or communication style, unqualified for the role, lack of team development, insufficient performance management.
The leader will have to be vulnerable with the coach, so trust is a must. The coach has to ensure the leader knows that the coach has the leader’s best interest in mind, and that confidential discussions will not be shared. Working with a leader in this situation requires a coach to really understand the leader – her strengths, fears, desires, pain points and development needs. It likely will require engagement with the leader’s team, via surveys, team sessions, one-on-ones or a combination of all. Peers and the leader’s manager may be part of the process as well. Through it all, however, the coach must maintain the leader’s trust that all the inputs are to help the leader – and her team – to improve and succeed.
Throughout all of these types of change – and any others – the takeaway is that coaching matters. During times of significant business change, a leader can rely on an experienced coach to be a sounding board, a trusted partner and – most importantly – a catalyst to help the leader uncover solutions that create positive results.
What type of culture change have you encountered?
Want to learn more about Change Coaching and how it can work for you and your organization? Learn more here.
For Shelle, coaching is not just her job…it is her passion. With over 25 years of experience in leading and creating meaningful change in high performance organizations, Shelle has collaborated with leaders across a wide spectrum. From CEOs and C-suite executives to developing leaders to aspiring or future leaders, Shelle uses her diverse background to instill change with her clients to achieve desired results.