Coaching during times of change requires a different focus than traditional coaching. Leaders’ primary focus should be on ensuring their direct reports manage individual transition by engaging in an interactive process. Transition coaching requires helping individuals manage their emotions, including their “me issues,” building up their confidence, and reinforcing their commitment to organizational change.

There are six (6) primary steps involved in effective transition coaching.

  • Step 1: Establish or renew a working relationship with each direct report
    The purpose of this step is to define the nature of the coaching relationship between the leader and their direct reports. In cases where both the manager and employee have little or no experience with one another, this step will take longer than when substantial familiarity does exist.
  • Step 2: Identify transition challenges
    The goal of this step is to partner with direct reports to uncover specific challenges they are experiencing due to the organizational change. Leaders should explore both organizational and personal challenges at this time.
  • Step 3: Identify strengths and development needs
    The time for long-term development planning is not during a major transition. Instead, the focus should be on short-term learning and development needs.
  • Step 4: Set transition change goals and timelines
    In this step, leaders should help the direct report establish a set of SMART goals to leverage their strengths and close short-term skill or learning gaps.
  • Step 5: Develop an Individual Transition Plan
    Next, leaders should help their direct report develop an Individual Transition Plan to meet each of the transition change goals they set in Step 4. The plan should detail how they will reach each of their goals, and it should be as specific as possible. To encourage specificity, ask the direct report how they can capitalize on their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses to reach their goals.
  • Step 6: Evaluate and recalibrate Individual Transition Plans for each direct report
    The plan developed in Step 5 should contain regular review dates. In this step, the goal is for the Leader to meet at a regularly scheduled time with their direct report and review the ongoing progress of the Individual Transition Plan.

The most important thing to remember is that transition coaching is a process. Each direct report will have a different path and some may be less linear than others. As leaders shepherd their direct reports through transition, it’s critical to take the time to recalibrate transition plans as needed and celebrate successes along the way.

Wendy L. Heckelman, Ph.D.

Dr. Wendy Heckelman, president and founder of WLH Consulting, Inc. has over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 100 industry clients. These include pharmaceutical, biotech, health care, animal health medicines, and consumer products, as well as international non-profit organizations and growing entrepreneurial companies.