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Walking hand in hand: Coaching and change

One thing that can be guaranteed is change - changes in cultural contexts, political and legal infrastructures, society, and business. Wilson (2009) identifies the main drivers of change for employment and (formal and informal) work are advances in technology and demography, factors that are already influencing the shape of organisations. In the last century “work-life was much simpler .... [where] information work entailed following instructions and procedures, and logical analysis. Today’s ... work ... [relies on] pattern recognition, tacit knowledge and the wisdom born of experience” (Jennings, 2012, p. 3). All of these factors impact understanding of learning, attitudes toward professional development, and opinions about value for money and the value of time spent learning. For example, for the first time there will be four generations in the workforce all of whom are likely to want the option of flexibility of where, how and when they work and learn (Jimenez, 2005).

Coaching offers a flexible, personalised way for people and organisations to:

  • Understand and work with the inevitability of, and resistance to, change

  • Develop strategies that recognise change can be experienced in a wide range of ways and steps (see for example, the Virginia Satir Change Model, Smith, 2000)

  • Embrace the fact that “change cannot be controlled” (Little, 2014, n.p.), and

  • Recognise that, when supported, “people have a way of fighting through the pain of change when they want the outcome badly enough” (Little, 2014, n.p.)

Two of the main reasons that people or organisations seek out coaching is because they want to change, or because change is underway and they want to work within it as effectively and painlessly as possible. Coaching is ideal because it is tailored to the needs of the individual or team and aligned with the organisation. As a result there is space for people to learn at their own pace, while also working with their own sense of professional and personal identity, which in turn impacts behaviour, and, frequently, levels of motivation.

Perceptions of self-efficacy strongly influence a person’s motivation and ability to perform effectively (Bandura 1986). A strong coaching relationship is able to “provide opportunities for social influence, feedback and modelling, and to build a culture of trust, support success and use approaches that positively impact personal cognition” (Owen, 2015, p. 4). In other words coaching can help a coachee develop positive self-efficacy, which helps them to “shift from seeing change as a threat to seeing it as an opportunity” (Southern Institute of Technology, 2015). They may also become change agents and leaders, who are adept at adapting rapidly to change, and who have the confidence and ability to use their own initiative to work with employees who require further support.


Center for Creative Leadership. (2012). The Coach’s View: Coach and Coachee Characteristics Add Up to Successful Coaching Engagements. [White Paper]. Retrieved from

Cox, E. (2006). An adult learning approach to coaching. In D. Stober & A. Grant (Eds.), Evidence based coaching handbook (pp.193-217). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Cox, E (2012), Coaching Understood: A pragmatic inquiry into the coaching process. London: Sage.

Cox, E., Bachkirova, T., Clutterbuck, D. (2011). The Complete Handbook of Coaching. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Garvey, B. (2010). Mentoring in a coaching world. In E. Cox, T. Bachkirova, & D. Clutterbuck (Eds.), The complete handbook of coaching (pp. 341-354). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing

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Ives. Y. (2008). What is ‘Coaching’? An Exploration of Conflicting Paradigms. International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring,  6(2), 100-113.

Jennings, C. (2012). The Rise of Workplace Learning - Introduction. In Workplace Learning: New thinking and practice. 6(1). pp. 1-1. Retrieved November 20, 2012 from

Jimenez, R. E. (2005). Future Trends in e-Learning. Retrieved November 2, 2012 from

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of knowledge and development. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs: NJ.

Kram, K. E. (1985). Mentoring at work: Developmental relationships in organizational life. Glenview, IL: Scott Foresman.

Little, J. (2014). Lean Change Management: Innovative Practices for Managing Organizational Change (1st edition ed.). Toronto, ON, Canada: Happy Melly Express.

Smith. S. (2000). The Satir Change Model. Retrieved from

Wilson, R. (2009). Summative report: The future of work and implications for education. Retrieved October 9, 2012 from

Williams, P. (2014). Coaching vs psychotherapy: The great debate. Choice Magazine 2(1). 38-39.

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Comment by margaret macpherson on November 22, 2015 at 19:28
"The wisdom born of experience" - so important.

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