• Kirstine Guldager Madsen
  • Gitte Løth Skoust
  • Birgitte Ladefoged Tang Sørensen
4. term, Learning and Innovative Change, Master (Master Programme)
How does coaching support the learning processes that follow change in an organization? This thesis is a case-study of an organization of public schools undergoing changes that affect several layers in the organization. A new structure rearranges the lines of authority and the way things are settled as school managements are merged and leaders are reorganized in teams. To support the change process, consultants are hired to assist in the process. They design a process of management training to meet the needs of an organization in change. One of the efforts is regular team coaching for the newly established management teams. This thesis looks at the coaching and the change process from a perspective of learning. Using qualitative methods, interviewing and observing consultants and leaders on different levels, this thesis shows how the persons involved perceive and experience the process in general and coaching in particular by describing best practice. The focus is how coaching can support a new established team in the leaning processes towards a more functional team. The leaders who were being coached generally painted a picture of the coaching as being helpful in the different challenges they were facing as a new established team. They did not report coaching as being a significant factor in the progress they experienced, but they did find that coaching was helpful as it put speed to the process, helped them in the team dialogue and generally helped them to move on with the next step in the process of each team. Using learning theory, it is explained how one can understand the learning processes of organiza-tional change. Yrjö Engeströms activity theory and David Kolbs learning theory is used to understand why members of an organization mobilize energy to learn, what they have to learn and how they learn. The motivation for leaning is found in the need for development as changes produce inherent contradictions between the well known and the new ‘team’ way of being a leader. These contradictions make it impossible not to learn as the leaders cannot act as they are used to. How to lead instead is an open question. The leaders must develop the answer for their organization and their challenges themselves. Only the framework of the new organization is given – within these frames they must develop the new activity system with new methods, understandings, rules, objectives and so on. This learning process is a diverse cycle of knowledge based on experience. The leaders set goals, compare reality to them (experience), identify problems (reflection), look for solutions (conceptualization), choose and carry out their common decisions (experimentation). The consultants can support these learning processes through team coaching. Meeting regularly, the team and coach can work on a current problem and/or develop the team competences to solve problems themselves. In team development, it becomes clear that coaching can support a newly established team through the development of basic team competences (cooperation, decision making, problem solving and conflict resolution) and through the establishment of team commitment (a sense of meaning, common goal and a united approach). Engeström’s ideas of the change laboratory are used to enhance the best practice observed. His ideas stress the importance of directing the energy from the inherent contradictions of an organiza-tion in change into learning and innovation, by encouraging the awareness of these contradictions. The use of a ‘mirror’ as a help in the learning process is also suggested. To support the leaders’ active engagement in the coaching available, a suggestion is made of how to communicate better about the specific team coaching offered. This is done to underline the importance of the before- and afterlife of a coaching session. A written folder is made to guide the teams being coached. This way, ‘Coaching processes of change – how coaching can support learning processes and team development in newly established teams’ uses phenomenology and pragmatism in the quest for knowledge about coaching in the field of learning.
Publication date2009
Number of pages220
Publishing institutionInstitut for Læring, Uddannelse og Filosofi, Aalborg Universitet
ID: 17987317