Recognize the symptoms
How do you recognize a crisis, a call for transition or a need for transformation? What can coaching accomplish?
We have listed some examples below.
A chemical company in the port found out that one of its tanks was leaking a dangerous product. Unfortunately, it was not possible in the short term to transfer the liquid chemical to a nearby tank. The company sought the help of an external crisis manager. Based on his guidance, the company subsequently alerted the environmental authorities, the city authorities and finally the media. At the same time, it drafted an action plan to monitor the problem and stop the leak, in consultation with the environmental authority. Over a longer period, the company informed the environmental authority on the daily progress of the work of the action plan.
The company used the crisis to thoroughly review and improve the internal quality procedure for tank monitoring. There was no negative impact in the media and the authorities expressed their appreciation for the company’s transparent and active approach.
Just like people, organizations can come under the influence of routine and rut. This always happens in a stealthy manner and can swing the organization in a dangerous sleep.
A managing director suddenly realized that the days had become predictable. Everything seemed to be going well but at the same time, nothing new seemed to happen. Innovation was a thing from a distant past and staff members looked extinguished.
When he interviewed a number of customers and suppliers, he learned that they no longer considered the company a preferred partner because of its lack of dynamism. In fact, the company had become exchangeable.
That unpleasant realization led him to a review of the product portfolio, the existing service and the customer needs. Then a team created a new dynamic throughout the company. Together with the staff they worked hard on company culture. That resulted in a new logo, a new product range and a faster and more personalized customer service.
The list of companies that transformed themselves over the years is long. These companies decided to do it because of the increased competition and price pressure for which they had no effective response.
IBM started selling scales and punch card machines. Later, they developed mainframes and personal computers. Today, IBM is focused on software, consulting and IT services. Apple launched the first personal computer and while still active in computers, it successfully diversified into iPods and online music, mobile phones and tablets.
Other companies got rid of the traditional hierarchical structure of their organization (command & control) and, a.o. by setting up self-managing teams, have liberated the potential of both employees and organization leading to a dramatic increase of their agility and innovation power. Ricardo Semler (Semco) is, next to other innovators, one of the pioneers of that movement.
Individual employees or teams are often unaware of their talents or abilities. There are numerous historical reasons for this. Coaching can help to discover talents, broaden the view, create perspective and take action. Once perspective has been created, it often generates a forward drive for the employee or the team.
A young employee had been kept small by his manager and, as a result, displayed a passive, uninterested and uncooperative attitude. When the manager left the organisation, the company offered the employee the opportunity to carry out the project himself. Initially, out of fear of failure, he showed resistance and limited engagement. However, through systematic coaching the employee’s confidence and knowledge increased significantly. Eventually, his overall performance and the quality of his work, including several innovations, turned out to be much higher than that of the former manager.