If you’re looking to uplevel your team and aid them as you navigate a big shift, like a merger, transition coaching probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind.
It may not even be the second.
Yet the right transition coach is an incredibly powerful force, capable of easing your business through the restructuring of your business, the acquisition process, or other major changes within your company, and ensuring that any changes occurring with your company or personal are as painless as possible.
Having coach on-hand to guide your team through tricky transitions is incredibly empowering, and can be the difference between a business that is floundering, and one that is flourishing.
But transition coaching isn’t just for moving people from one place or role to another, it can be transitioning them from one state of mind to another.
I was recently invited to speak at The Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division forum in London, an exciting event designed for trainees, as well as newly qualified lawyers, and solicitors with less than three years of post qualification experience (PQE). Given the transitory nature of these roles and the speed with which law firms encourage aspiring lawyers to move up the ladder, transition coaching was the perfect subject.
The event was thoroughly enjoyable and a great success, and it got me thinking about how many firms are missing out on the huge benefits of transition coaching simply because they’re unsure how it can help them, or exactly what it’s for.
So, for the benefit of everyone who wasn’t at The Junior Lawyers Division with me, here is exactly how to use transition coaching to strengthen your team and help it effectively navigate any big shifts within your organisation…
What Is Transition Coaching?
Are you navigating a merger, going through the acquisition process, or restructuring your business.
Do you have new employees starting and want to ensure they have a positive beginning?
Or maybe you’re looking to move existing employees up the corporate ladder, and want to ensure it’s as smooth a climb as possible for them?
Have employees been away on maternity leave, sick leave, or sabbatical, and you want to help them get back into the swing of things and get them up to full speed as quickly as possible?
Transition coaching is there to ease your employees (past, present and future) from one situation to the next in the most effective, painless way possible. This is done through a powerful combination of raising the personal credibility of each individual employee, and helping them to understand their ambitions and personal objectives through enhanced self-awareness and communication skills.
This encourages your team to grapple with their self-worth and goals for both their personal and professional lives, and get totally honest with themselves about where they are verses where they want to be. In turn, this will help them function more effectively as a cohesive team, and take the action needed to reposition themselves with the level of presence and impact needed to transition to a new phase.
That may be an individual transition, such as a higher rung on the ladder, a new direction in their overall career trajectory, or coming to work with your company from another role. But more likely it is stepping into a new phase in your business, and embracing a higher level of working (both with each other, and clients).
Whoever is on your team, and whatever changes they might be facing, the most efficient way to improve their effectiveness as both individuals and a team within your organisation is to allow them to focus on themselves.
Once they fully understand who they are they will more effectively integrate themselves into the group, and be better equipped to deliver the best possible results.
The more at ease your team are with change, the better their performance will be, and the more successful your business will become.
Whatever the case, transitions are tough to instigate and navigate, but with the right mindset and enough motivation can be a smooth process.
Helping Your Team Foster Credible Values
The personal credibility of every member of your team is of vital importance if you want them to work effectively as a group. But what exactly goes into a person’s credibility factor?
Where is the line between a person performing reasonably well, and a credible professional who’s clearly going places and deserves to be respected and elevated?
Credibility can feel like an ineffable value to quantify; an impossible thing to manufacture.
It’s the ability to pitch up to a red carpet event in a slick stretch limo, and effortlessly smile for the paparazzi. Without it, you’re tumbling out of an old banger and getting angry when a reporter shoves a flash in your face.
One scenario sees your employee showing up fully prepared for what they’re facing and acting accordingly, the other appears a little bamboozled, and acts like they don’t quite belong.
But being credible is a lot more than looking the part.
Anyone can wear a power suit, but not everyone can walk into a conference room and instantly command the attention and respect of everyone present. It’s about bearing, confidence, and knowledge.
These are qualities that are even more important to foster in your management at times of uncertainty, as they will inspire a similar confidence in others, reassuring them that whatever changes they’re experiencing are no cause for concern.
Fortunately there are some simple areas you can focus on developing in your team to steadily build their credibility, and in turn build the credibility of the company.
- Acting with integrity, in a respectful manner.
- Focusing on strong values and an authentic approach to business (and life in general).
- Taking responsibility for actions and admitting when you have made a mistake.
- Encourage and positively respond to feedback.
- Deliver your work on time and to a high standard.
- Demonstrate resilience and consistency in all these areas.
Teaching Your Team To Roar
A business can often feel like a lot of unrealised and unrecognised potential. A huge hurdle to realising that potential is ensuring your team are fully aware of their capabilities. Often, people look in the mirror and see a proud lion staring back. They trot outside and are greeted by a world that treats them as if they’re nothing more than a scraggly tabby cat.
The perceptions of others are powerful things, but we must learn to set them aside and make the view we have of ourselves, our businesses, and our teams a reality that the rest of the world can share.
When you’re expecting your team to command the power and respect of a pride, and they are seen (or see themselves) more as a gang of alley cats, there’s a disconnect between the expectations and needs of your business, and the perceptions and feelings of your team and potential clients.
It’s not enough for them to feel like lions, or even look like lions, they have to act like lions: walk the talk, become the leaders and innovators they’re capable of being, and you need them to be in order to propel your business forwards and into a new phase.
Everyone has the capacity to enable others to see their true depths, step fully into their potential and own it.
Your team needs to learn to roar.
Here are a few easy habits a transition coach can help your team work into their day-to-day lives, that will help them transition from scraggly little cats into the kings (or queens!) of the proverbial jungle…
Helping Your Team Stay In Control
What is it that separates the lion from the herd? That makes them the hunter, rather than the prey?
Wildebeests have superior numbers and are capable of immense destruction when they all run in the same direction (the infamous stampede), yet it’s the lion that controls the chase.
A single lion can cause a whole herd to run, and even control the direction they take, herding them towards a point that works to their advantage and allows them to pick off one of the stragglers.
The lion is in control, despite being alone. A full pride, taking all that individual power and putting it to work for a common goal is a powerful force indeed.
Control is one of the great differences between a business that leads, and a business that follows. Between the mentality of a hunter, and the attitude of a lemming.
Your team should work on developing the ability to control any situation, and turn it to their advantage. To steer the direction of that stampede.
Remember, a great deal about transition coaching hinges on self-awareness, so before your team get out there and start trying to herd some wildebeests, it’s important they take control of their own thoughts, their own actions.
Encouraging Your Team To Practice Positive Self-Talk
How often do we beat ourselves up over things we’ve said or done throughout the day?
The clock rolls around, we’re finally able to hit the sack for the night, and what happens but a little voice whispers, You shouldn’t have said that.
Why did you do that?
What’s wrong with you?
Contrary to popular wisdom, talking to ourselves is actually perfectly normal. We do it constantly (albeit usually in our heads, rather than out loud). This is called ‘self-talk’ and literally involves all the things we think, which are directed at ourselves.
When your team stops, takes a step back, and pays close attention to the way they talk to and about themselves, in their own head, they will quickly realise there’s a whole lot of negativity going on there.
They’re too hard on themselves.
It’s so easy to be critical, especially when you’re trying to improve yourself, your career, and your life.
It feels constructive – as if you can whittle down all the flaws and leave something smooth and polished, with nothing but a little tough love.
What they’re actually doing is eroding their own self-confidence, their own self-worth. They’re constructing an internal narrative of failure, and it’s a peculiar truth that ‘thoughts become things’.
After all, what is a belief but a thought you have thought repeatedly?
Speak to yourself with this kind of negativity often enough, and you start to believe it. You believe you’re inadequate, a failure, or at the least, not really doing very well at this whole ‘life’ thing.
Flip the scripts playing in the minds of your team, and see what happens.
Turn all that negative self-talk into positive affirmation and watch them thrive under the power of a little boost to their self-esteem, and a bit more energy in the self-worth tank.
Prompting Your Team To Be Proactive In Their Goals
Part of mastering self-awareness is understanding what your goals are. The deeper aspect of this, however, is taking a proactive approach to those goals.
Are your team sitting around daydreaming about the careers they always wanted, the milestones they want to hit, and the life those achievements will afford them, or are they out there taking steps towards making that dream a reality?
Even small, proactive actions can you employees feel as if they are achieving something. Even if that ‘something’ is nowhere near their ultimate destination, at least they’re moving towards it.
When they’re no longer stuck in place, dreaming of being somewhere else, but secretly sure there’s no real possibility of ever getting there, you’ll find they’re a lot more motivated and productive.
And here’s the funny thing – small actions taken regularly quickly add up to big moves.
A proactive attitude will get your team a long way, a lot faster than you realise.
Ensuring Your Team Are Responsive, Rather Than Reactive
Another big shift in mentality you can take to help transition your team into the next stage of development is ensuring they become responsive rather than reactive.
What’s the difference?
We react on gut instinct, without thinking things through. Something happens, and we have a reaction. It may be positive, but often it’s negative, and in either case, it is outside our control because we are not taking conscious action but simply reacting on autopilot.
Teaching your team to take a breath and have thoughtful responses, rather than gut reactions, makes a huge difference when it comes to fostering that credibility we were talking about.
Ensuring Your Business Runs In The Now
Another downside of a team that’s always daydreaming about possible futures is that it takes them out of the present.
When you’re lost in thoughts of where you’d like to be in the future, or where you were in the past, you’re failing to pay attention to your current situation.
More importantly, you’re failing to change your current situation, or adapt to changes happening around you.
It’s tough for a team to be proactive when they’re so distracted by tomorrow or yesterday that they let today completely pass them by.
Encourage your team to leave the struggles and challenges of yesterday behind them, plan for but avoid dwelling on the future, and focus their energies clearly on the tasks of the day.
Challenge Your Team’s Fear Of Failure
One of the biggest reasons we remain stuck is the fear of failure. This is particularly true if we feel we have failed in the past and may fail again in the future. If your team has experienced setbacks or let downs (either personally or as a group), that were particularly stressful or unpleasant, it can leave then with fear that they may experience a similar situation again.
It is our fears that keep us up at night, and whisper all that negativity at us.
Yet how many things does a lion have to fear?
Challenge your team’s fear of failure. Put them out of their comfort zone, get them trying new things, doing things they’ve always felt they could never do, they’ll find that fear diminishing.
And if it feels like too much of a leap to immediately challenge them professionally, start with giving them new things to experience on a more personal level. Get them to try a completely new kind of food, put them in exciting new social situations that make them just a little bit uncomfortable.
Help them get comfortable with the possibility of failure, and the reality that it’s not nearly as bad as they fear it will be.
As the cliche goes, it doesn’t matter if you fall down, only that you get back up.
Celebrate Your Collective And Individual Successes
And here’s a quick win that will help your team be a little more positive in their self-talk: celebrate you successes.
So often we marginalise our successes, striving for things for weeks, months, even years, feeling they are impossibly out of reach, and then bam!
As soon as we reach them, we feel they can’t have been such great achievements as we thought.
After all, we have achieved them.
They can’t be all that special if they’re so ‘easily’ done.
And surely it must have been easy, or we wouldn’t have been able to do it.
The unachievable quickly becomes mundane through the very act of achieving it. But success at any level, and in any area, is hard-won. And whether it’s a feat that’s never been done before or something that’s commonplace to everyone other than you, when you achieve something it’s worth of celebrating.
For team, and their self-worth and sense of collective worthiness, if nothing else.
What It Takes To Successfully Transition
Here’s the upshot of transition coaching: if every individual member of your team can learn a few core skills, your business will be well on its way to loftier heights. Teach your team that:
- They’re in possession of a wider perspective on the world.
- They’re capable of performing in your job financially, forming excellent client relationships, and demonstrating technological savvy.
- They’re able to act acting as a role model, and a firm champion for your firm.
- They’re capable of demonstrating innovation and creativity.
- They possess the business acumen and are committed to the growth of your own professional competency, and corporate social responsibility.
In other words, help them learn to roar.