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Helping Clients Deal with the Consequences of Transformational Success with Kim D. Strohmeier

by | In the Magazine, Kim D. Strohmeier

As business coaches, our role is to help an entrepreneur transform their business.

This transformation can mean many things to a business owner. It could mean drastically increased sales. It could mean they are no longer spending 60-70 hours a week at the shop. I like to tell my clients that it means economic freedom.

However, there are some consequences of this new-found transformational success. It also means some significant change – changes in work habits, changes in business operations, and potentially even changes in personal relationships.

These consequences of success not only affect the owner of the business, but it also affects business employees and even family members.

We are all creatures of habit. Our habits and routines make life comfortable for us. Change disrupts our routines and comfort zones. Change causes stress, and because of that, most people do not like change.

As a coach that advocates for transformational change in a business, I believe that we bear a responsibility to help our clients adapt to these changes and manage this success.

Not only do we have a responsibility, but I believe we become an even more valuable resource to our clients when we help them adapt.

Dynamics of Change

Years ago, Ken Blanchard, management consultant and author of The One-Minute Manager, described the dynamics of how humans respond to change. Understanding these behavioral patterns can better equip coaches to help clients as they manage this new-found growth.

As our clients see the possibilities of phenomenal growth, they will likely become rather excited. We need to help them recognize that this will disrupt the ways in which they normally operate. Even with this excitement, it can be a stressful experience.

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It can be even more stressful for employees. They may wonder how it will affect them, their job responsibilities, and their stability. This uncertainty can affect family members, too. When will you be home for meals, what about ball games or music recitals for the kids, what about that vacation we had planned?

Following are Blanchard’s 7 Dynamics of Change, and how a coach can use them to help a client:

People will feel uncomfortable, awkward, and ill-at-ease during a change

As a coach, we need to stress that this discomfort will happen, and we need to stress that this discomfort can be lessened with communication. It may be verbal or written, but let people know what is happening, what is planned, and how it will likely affect everyone. Help everyone feel part of the change.

People will initially focus on what they have to give up as compared to what they have to gain

Human nature is such that there will likely be a sense of “loss” of the old way of doing things. It is important to constantly sell why the business is changing direction and to help everyone involved visualize what the future holds for them. Help them see what is in it for them personally.  At the same time, suggest that the client be available to give everyone time to talk through this feeling of loss.

People will feel alone even though everyone else is going through the same process

People are always going to personalize change that is happening to them and react accordingly. Urge the client to be supportive of others as they work through the challenges of this change, and to even ask them for their support.

People can handle only so much change at a time

Too much change at once will cause people to lose productivity and can bring some to the point of physical sickness. Suggest that changes be made methodically, with a clear plan to help focus energy. The client also needs to be able to recognize signs of stress and be ready to adjust the pace of change, if necessary.

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People are at different levels of readiness for change

Everyone will experience some level of stress, but some will be able to get more excited about business changes than others. Typically those that help create the change process will be more ready for it than those that just heard about it. Using this to the business’ advantage, suggest that the client involve everyone in the process at the earliest possible point.

People will be concerned that they don’t have enough resources

Sometimes when people are asked to do things differently, they can interpret it as a charge to do more, and to do it with less time, people and/or money.  Give people time to adjust to the changes, and once again, continue to communicate. Remember that communication is two-way – it is just as important for the client to listen as it is to outline the business objectives to others.

If you take off the pressure, people will revert to old behavior

As the process of change progresses, a natural tendency will be to evolve back to the previous way of operation. The client will need to work to counteract this tendency. Reinforce compliance by making adaptation easy and rewarding new behaviors, as well as removing the ease of slipping back to old ways.   

One of the best ways to help clients understand the importance of these responses to change is to have them visualize and describe how a particular change has affected them personally. Generally, they will be able to recognize this in themselves, which will help them to better relate to others.

Our client’s ability to anticipate and respond to the practical and emotional concerns of all involved in making a substantial business change will largely determine the ultimate success of that change.

As a coach, our role will be greatly strengthened when we can help the entrepreneur effectively lead through the process, and we become a much more vital asset to them.

 About Kim D. Strohmeier

Kim D. Strohmeier has over 10 years of national experience in training and coaching entrepreneurs. As a 35-year veteran of the University of Kentucky’s Cooperative Extension Service, he has a whole career’s worth of training in working with business people to help them realize their dreams. As an internationally-trained coach, he focuses on reality, rather than the theory, of small business planning, management, and marketing, helping his clients set themselves up for long-term financial success.

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