Reading the book “The Theory and Practise of Change Management”, I stumbled over a good description of the stages in the helping relationship that I would like to share with you.
The six-stage model serves as a cognitive map that can help us as change agents or facilitators of organisational change establish a good foundation for understanding the different modes of intervening and identifying actionable next steps forward.
Stage 1: Developing the helping relationship. This includes establishing a genuine relationship based on trust by treating each case and client as unique, suspend critical judgement and the typical “soultions-in-a-box” approach. Listen, learn, respect. The client owns both the problem and the solution, and we are here to join them in their journey.
Stage 2: Helping clients understand the problem situation. Help clients or management assess and clarify their situation within their own frames of reference. Often we can help by identifying patterns, mirror assumptions and provide a new language for “the bigger picture”.
Stage 3: Helping clients identify a preferred scenario and establish change goals. This includes developing a range of different scenarios and choosing what goals to pursue. How can we help develop, understand and communicate the desired end state, benefits and unique drivers internally and externally.
Stage 4: Helping clients plan and take action. Support a highly adaptable and creative approach based on a structured step-by-step plan utilising well proven methods. Help measure results and gather feedback throughout the project to continuously adjust plans and measures.
Stage 5: Consolidating the change. Find ways of anchoring the changes, reminding and rewarding the new ways. Here the benefit indicators from the goal setting can be a very useful thing to rigorously track, as well as securing relevant sources of feedback.
Stage 6: Withdrawing from the helping relationship. Ensuring a professional handover and documentation of the journey, the learning, the effect and the challenges ahead. Ensuring sufficient training and room for reflection.
For me the biggest challenge is often to “establish the helping relationship” with new clients, projects or management teams with whom I have no proven track record or relationship – trust just takes time, and sometimes you just don’t have time before you either have to decide or get going.