Insight of the Week: Coach Your Incumbent Execs to Survive Innovation

Coach Your Incumbent Execs to Survive Innovation

We’ve  spent some time talking with the head of transformation for a global insurance company. He’s helping this 17,000-employee organization change the way it faces its key markets.

 From his personal experience living through two high-stakes mergers, he’s learned that coaching in advance of big changes is vital.

“If you look at what happens when you change the way we go to market, you see a lot of mid and senior-level management folks, good people who have had success and are likely to want to avoid risk, just get totally blind-sided by how their work will change day to day. They don’t have the experience to anticipate how they’ll be treated differently by others in the organization, and what it will all feel like. Good people will be easy pickings for competitors and headhunters when that happens, and others will just put their heads down and stop contributing.

“But if they know what it’s going to feel like, if they have a sense that once the current steps for planning and selling are pulled away and new things get tried out, there will be a path that does indeed lead to success, they’ll be much better off. When the changes unfold as a series of surprises, you create a lot for people you want to retain and keep engaged. You have to help them anticipate the surprises. The organization will be much better off. These people have to know where that path is, what that path is, how people good at adapting in that situation think and feel and act.”