What’s Up with Pastor Todd 11-5-21

What’s Up with Pastor Todd 11/5/21

Coaching a transition process and change management are two different things. This is one of my big “light bulb” moments from the past two weeks of online professional conferences I’ve been attending as part of my continuing education.

Last week I attended the annual professional conference for the International Coaching Federation (ICF). ICF is the world’s largest credentialing body for professional coaches. Our transition coach, Rev. Dr. Claire Bamberg is credentialed through ICF. The coaches facilitating our working groups are ICF credentialed as well.

The difference between change management and coaching is who is in the driver’s seat. Change management operates under the assumptions of hierarchical business and organizational structures where there’s a boss or a board driving the change. The shepherding is done by the “project manager” who is in charge of designing and executing the process. Change management lends itself well to technical challenges where the problem is fairly well defined and the solution is somewhat familiar. Organizations and projects where roles are clearly defined and leadership has tools to enforce compliance (through, for example, a paycheck) are served well by a change management process. In change management the boss or board hands over the keys to the change manager who takes the organization from a clearly defined point A to the desired destination point B. 

The example that was used in the change management seminar I attended had to do with a business shifting from a traditional office-with-doors workspace environment to a more modern open concept workspace. A complicated shift, for sure, but very different from trying to consolidate two centuries old churches.

In coaching, the “client” is in the driver’s seat, not the coach. Often the client is facing an adaptive challenge, which means that first we have to define what, precisely, the problem is. This is an awareness building process that leads to an “aha” moment in which the “problem” is identified and a range of possible solutions brainstormed. Using the tools of powerful questions, artful language, and deep listening the client identifies resources, accountability structures, and paths forward as new possibilities arise. There’s no need to get “buy-in” because the solution comes from the client themselves. Shifting metaphors: the coach acts as a midwife to bring the new life out into the world; however, it’s the client’s “baby,” and they have to do the “labor.”

Our transition process has primarily relied on the coaching model because it is most appropriate for the type of organization we are working with and because of the type of challenge we are facing. There have been some elements of change management, which may have led to confusion for folks more familiar with the change management approach. The coaching model is challenging because it invites the client to do the difficult work of transformation. The coaching model is the appropriate model because when it comes to personal or organizational transformation, no one can do the work for you.

Author: toddyonkman

I am a husband, father, author, and Designated Term Transitional Pastor of First Church of Christ in Saybrook (CT).

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