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Leading Transformational Change

  • CTS Management Conference: Leading Transformational Change (May 2011)

 I am working here at Melba Lodge, Yarra Valley on a residential management conference with the management group of CTS – including Andrew, Cameron, Adam, Stuart and Mark.

It is always refreshing to work with a leadership group such as these guys, who are so keen to learn and so motivated to gain new tools and frameworks that can improve their ability to get the best out of themselves and their teams. They work in a demanding environment that requires them to be both agile in their thinking and flexible in their response to changed operating conditions  – so as to design and consistently deliver quality, cutting-edge technology solutions for their clients.  Change and the need for innovation are a constant for them.


The theme for the first day of the conference was more about the macro-side of organisation change. We have been exploring the ways in which changes to business strategy are driven by the need to adapt to changes in the business external environment.  Transformational leadership may require the need to change organisational culture – and the three major levers for influencing organisational culture include structure, systems and symbolic actions.

The leader needs to be able to communicate to staff  the vision behind the change – and this needs to be expressed simply, frequently and with emotive appeal. The vision needs to provide staff with a sense of meaning and purpose, so they can recognise what is being gained outweighs what may be lost through the change process. Creating a sense of urgency means that through regular communication, staff develop the understanding od the compelling reasons driving the need for change.

We reflected that planning for change is much like planning for any other project ……

  1. Create a change team or “coalition”
  2. Scope the change and define clear objectives
  3. Identify key stakeholders and their communication needs
  4. Generate task analysis with timelines – using Gantt and Pert charts
  5. Develop measures and controls – with “small wins” change milestones identified
  6. Risk analysis, force-field analysis, contingency planning – including anticipating resistance and and how to counter it
  7. Monitor, support, seek feedback, regularly communicate, adjust plans and recognise milestones
  8. Celebrate achievement, ensure change  “stickiness” and review lessons learned


The major theme for the second day was “Coaching Skills – Guiding & Supporting Staff Through Change“. This day was about reflecting upon the reasons staff may resist change and some of the emotional dynamics that can accompany change processes – including fear, anxiety and maybe even anger.

The coaching framework we explored was “PGROW”. It was emphasised that when coaching and supporting staff through change processes, that the manager needed to recognise  there will be some staff who experience problems and difficulties and that the PGROW coaching method offered a guide as to how to explore, understand and seek to resolve with staff the issue they or concern they are experiencing. It is a method that requires the manager to apply skills in listening, probing, clarifying and showing some genuine empathy.

  1. Problem – define the issue with the coachee…..what exactly is the problem
  2. Goal – translate the problem into a positive goal statement. “So what do are you wanting to achieve or change here?”
  3. Reason / root cause – asking the coachee to consider what they think is causing the problem, and why it has happened. What are the obstacles and constraints in the situation they are facing?
  4. Options – Encouraging the coachee to consider ways of improving the situation …..”What are some of the causal factors that you think could be changed?
  5. Way forward …..evaluating the options and asking the coachee to identify what they think are the most workable solutions …..Translating these into a workable action plan
  6. E – evaluating progress of the action plan ……meeting together again in a week or two, to determine if the action plan is improving the situation for the coachee

Through quite intensive skills practice and simulations, the management group recognised that when in coaching mode, they are not telling the employee what to do, they are guiding and encouraging the staff member to reflect for themselves.

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