The Fine Art of Coaching & Mentoring - Part 1
I believe that coaching and mentoring are great ways to support transformation, knowledge management, personal development and foster a culture of collaboration and constant learning.
For business analysis, where change and transformation are the main drivers of its purpose, coaching and mentoring are important aspects before, during and after the transition phase of an initiative. The changes we make obviously have an effect on the people who will have to adapt to a changed working environment, and in some cases the effect might even go beyond their daily work and into their private life. Changing the location of a workplace, suddenly leaving someone with a new commute time of 3 hours rather than 30 minutes, can cause major distress even for the most dedicated employee. And these situations make me wonder how, as a business analyst, I can deliver not only value to the organisation, but deliver value to those people going through the change.
Unfreeze, change, freeze
Kurt Lewin (1890 – 1947) introduced the well-known, three-step model of change management: unfreeze, change, freeze. The “freeze step” of the change aims to provide actions, reinforcements and support for the change to be embedded in the organisation. It is fairly safe to say that the freeze phase is key for a new environment to become effective and efficient. As long as the new state is not "frozen", the expected added value of the initiative is not fully delivered. People’s lack of confidence and motivation can lead to the freeze phased being prolonged, leaving business and organisation struggling to meet expected efficiency and effectiveness within the new environment. Business analysis is meant to create value, and as long as the changed working environment is not frozen, I feel that the objective of adding value to the organisation, the business and the people has not been achieved.
Supporting people before, during and after transition
Leaving the old behind and embarking into the unknown is not something many people consider to be a lot of fun. From what I have so far learnt and seen, coaching and mentoring are valuable means to support people in many ways before, during and after transition. For a start, people realise that their worries are taken seriously and they are not left alone. They might also find that they can learn new skills from the “experts” organising the change. Some might even realise that being a business analyst is much more interesting than their current daily business and think about how to get involved in business analysis 😊 (which is actually what happened to me!). Further, coaching and mentoring allows people to make the transition in their own pace, giving them control over what is happening, rather than being pushed and pulled and left overwhelmed by the change.
Coaching & mentoring in business analysis
As a business analyst, I feel that coaching and mentoring should be part of our toolbox and we should encourage leaders of initiatives to consider these tools as “action items”, making transitions from old to new smoother and less exhausting for everyone involved. Smoother transitions not only save time and money during the initiative, but also allow for business to regain confidence and speed up their working pace much quicker within the new environment. Both, confidence and working pace are the baseline for quality, efficiency and effectiveness.
My personal insights into coaching & mentoring
To find out more about how I can use coaching and mentoring in business analysis, I enrolled in an online-study course provided by the Brighton School of Business and Management. The more I read about coaching and mentoring, the more I got convinced that they should be part of any change initiative, besides the standard training sessions. However, I also realised that proper coaching or mentoring is not as easy as we might think. Also, they are not as such part of the official business analysis curriculum, although empathy plays a big part in business analysis as well as in coaching & mentoring.
More to come
This blog post is the first part of a mini-series in which I would like to share my initial findings and ideas on coaching and mentoring in business analysis. In part two of this series I will explore the differences between coaching and mentoring, trying to find out which one might be better suited for business analysts.