Presidential Transition Worries? Good Coaching Gets You Through It

I don’t know what to expect.

I can’t share this with my coworkers, and I certainly can’t talk with my boss about this.

I didn’t realize how much this is actually affecting me.

I don’t know what I’m going to do.

I hear these phrases a lot from my coaching clients these days. While they’re to be expected in coaching conversations, they’re particularly prevalent during this current change of Presidential administrations. According to the Senior Executives Association’s handbook on Presidential transition for Federal executives , “Over 4,000 political appointee positions will turn over with a new Administration and virtually all civilian employees will be touched by the changes.” For managers and HR professionals staying attuned to their colleagues, providing the right support during times of transition can significantly impact how individuals, teams, and, ultimately, organizations fare during a period of change and uncertainty.

A transition can be like a roller coaster, and even if you’re in front leading the way, or have even finished the ride and are ready to move on, remember that the rest of your team might still be hanging on through loops, corkscrews, twists, and turns behind you. Same as having great internal communication, coaching helps get people through the roller coaster ride.

In conjunction with solid communications with your staff, consider a three-pronged coaching approach within your organization:

Engage in one-on-one coaching: Many factors influence how well individuals approach, and execute, a transition, including “self-criticism, self-doubt, identity shifts, boundary realignments, self-expectation to get it ‘right’ from the start” and more (Weinstock 2011). Whether an individual is experiencing a specific transition in their own role, or navigating an organizational transition, an external coach may be the support they need to reassess the specific behaviors, actions, and perspectives they’ll need to shift to be productive in the new organizational landscape.

Create a peer coaching program: An economical and potent way to build empowered employees is to cascade voluntary peer coaching groups throughout your organization. In peer coaching, peers (who do not necessarily work on the same team) come together to build a confidential thought-partnership specific to the concerns of each participant, while learning key coaching skills that will serve them in any relationship and serve them when leading others. While the setup of a peer coaching cohort needs to be intentional, when managed well and trained in the appropriate process, employees can cover territory together that they might be unwilling to broach within their team or with their supervisor.

Get coaching for groups or teams: Consider this approach to get your team collectively thinking about what the system of the team needs in order to be successful throughout, and beyond, the transition. You may take advantage of an assessment instrument to establish common data points from which to gain understanding and launch your work together. Making sure you think through which behaviors and business outcomes you’d like the team coaching to support will be key in measuring its effectiveness.

Coaching focuses on taking action and changing behaviors—behaviors that are often expressions of our personal values. When employees have difficulty navigating a transition, they may not only be confronting the behavioral requirements of change, but confronting potentially conflicting values and beliefs surrounding the change as well. Not everyone recognizes the energetic toll it can take to self-regulate a range of emotional responses to change that can stem from the absence of a productive outlet for thinking through the transition. Coaching, including individual, peer, and team coaching, can provide the support employees need to both change their behavior and navigate the complex emotional requirements for successful transition.

For other tips and recommendations for thriving during the Presidential transition (and thriving, of course, during the new administration), check out our other complimentary resources and blogs:

Webinar: Are You Ready? Communicating Program Value Amidst an Administration Change


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Natalya Pestalozzi

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