Changing Someone Who Doesn’t Want to Change

People are different. They have different goals—personal and professional ones. They have different views and want different things. Some are obsessed with their careers and see their current jobs as means of progression. Some see their personal lives as the only important focus in life. Some just want peace and stay under the radar. Some are so goal obsessed that they want results no matter what—event at the expense of the team or even the company. But all of them have one thing in common—they all use their jobs as a means to get to their goals—be it business or personal ones. So, as a leader, how do you change someone that you see hurting your company, hurting the atmosphere? How do you change someone that doesn’t want to change or see the need for it? So, as a leader, what do you do?

Before you can facilitate a change to someone, you will need to know a few basic things—what you are helping them change, what constitutes change—for you as a leader and for them as an employee and also what the goal of change is.

To know what someone needs to change, they will need to be perceptive to seeing it before they can change it. They will need to see how their behaviour or engagement in relationships is not only hurting their company or team but also them—by impacting their career and professional life. They will usually not see these aspects of themselves, but when they do, they will see them as flaws. And flaws can be painful.

And to add—how can all this be tackled once exposed? Take for instance someone that feels threatened in the team and is not only getting isolated from others but also becoming increasingly defensive and conflictive. Such individual will not respond to coaching just like that. Treating them with respect, transparency and obvious mutual objective is especially important with such individuals. If not, they will perceive any suggestion of engagement in coaching as confirmation that others think that there’s something wrong with them. They will assume others want them to change in the way that will suit others rather than themselves. That will leave them feeling more threatened, more disengaged, less perceptive to coaching and—what is most damaging—not perceptive to any further future attempts to engage in change.

But pointing it out won’ cut it. Doing that might be seen as criticism and criticism is often perceived as shaming—even when it’s not meant as such. So, for someone not to defend against their change, they need to see the areas they need to change as potential to get better at their work, in their careers, in their professional and private lives.

So, the willingness to change, combined with the willingness to change through a coaching relationship is the breading ground for successful coaching.

(More about coaching relationships: Importance and Impact of the Coaching Relationship)

When, as a leader, you are left without willingness of your team members to change, then you are at a standstill. And this is one of the reasons why so many coaching attempts fail. Both leaders—and often coaches as well—presuppose that the team member will change just because they were told so.

(Related reading: The Hidden Reasons Why Coaching Fails)

Take for instance a company director or a bored member that takes on a coach and tells them they have a problem with a few of their executives and they want them to change. The problem with this is at the get go—you cannot change someone that doesn’t see they have a problem or that they have a problem that doesn’t really work for them.

So the first thing that a coach needs to make sure is that whoever they work with acknowledges the problem and trusts that changing the way they think feel, behave, engage in relationships or whatever they do that is an issue is something that they want to change as well.

The first step of a leader is to acknowledge this and to make sure the coach in fact prepares the client for change and gains trust in relationship with them.

(Related reading: Therapy and the Fear of Change)

Tagged ,