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The power of coaching: Turning transitions into transformations

December 21, 2022 - 9 min read


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Even expected transitions aren't easy

Transition is where the magic happens

How coaching helped veterans

Coaching through change

Achieve organizational transformation by supporting individual change

There's only one constant in this world, and that's change. 

In his book "Life Is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age," Bruce Feiler's research showed a major life change happens to us, on average, every 12 to 18 months. With that sort of frequency, you'd think we might be better suited to handling change. But even when we're planning for a transition or want something different — such as having a baby, moving to a new city, or finding a new job — change is difficult for everyone. 

That's because change makes us feel off balance. It can make us question our purpose, goals, and sense of self. There's even a word for this "in-between" feeling: liminality. But a transition can culminate in valuable transformation if only we're given support along the way. Individual transformation creates a ripple effect in the organizations we work for and the communities we live in. 

Even expected transitions aren't easy

Take veterans transitioning to civilian life for example. Service leavers experience a significant cultural and personal shift. In the military, they work in a hierarchical environment with a clear chain of command and always function as part of a team. This bond creates a strong sense of community and purpose that is hard to replicate in life after service.

Adjusting to the workforce is no easy task. Despite the strong leadership and problem-solving skills veterans have, both employers and veterans need guidance and an understanding of how skills translate to a non-military business context. According to the Ministry of Defence, 79% of veterans agree that support for translating military skills to civilian equivalents is important for a successful transition to the workforce. 

Transition is where the magic happens

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Transitional moments are where we ask ourselves pressing questions: "Who am I, and who do I want to be? What are my passions and purpose?" Asking these questions requires self-reflection and, often, support to gain deeper self-awareness. In a business context, transitional moments — such as vying for a promotion, a department reorg, or exploring a new career — are instances when individuals benefit from reflection and coaching. 

These are moments when stress management skills, mental resilience, and focus help to navigate change. As we face economic, political, and social uncertainty, these skills are needed more than ever. 

When organizations support people through transitions and assist them in building mindsets and behaviors to flourish amid adversity, they see business impact. Research shows that future-minded leaders are 21% more resilient and productive and 33% less likely to leave the company they work for. And BetterUp data on leaders in the UK shows that at least four months of personalized coaching led to a 22% increase in stress management skills and a 17% increase in both resilience and well-being. 

So, how do organizations provide the support individuals need to thrive? Coaching can help.

Leaving the military

How coaching helped veterans

Our 2022 pilot study with service members leaving active duty demonstrated the importance of tailored support for people experiencing change. Prior to the pilot program, service members completed BetterUp's Whole Person Assessment™ to identify their strengths, growth opportunities, and goals. We learned:

  • 58% of service members cared most about career development.
  • They wanted to strengthen communication skills, resilience, self-compassion, and focus.

Through 1:1 coaching, access to specialized coaches, and a library of BetterUp resources, service members received support and guidance to navigate change. Working with a coach helped provide clarity about the life transition and equipped veterans tools and strategies to thrive in non-military environments.

"I developed a personal brand, identified my strengths and weaknesses, and thought about how to use my strengths to improve my weaknesses. I pursued a new role that aligns with my personal brand."

 Pilot member

Transition_satisfaction data 3

Additionally, both service members and coaches noticed sizeable shifts in their levels of optimism, hope, purpose and meaning, and confidence related to their transition.

"This has been an extremely valuable and enhancing experience. I'm more excited than ever about my transition from military to civilian."

 Pilot member

When we have a plan and steps to achieve it, changes don't feel as daunting. Through coaching, people can thrive and transform during transitional periods.

"I love that I leave our sessions with new insights about myself and with practical actions I can take to improve my well-being." 

 Pilot member

Coaching through change

Coaches help people discover their own strengths and weaknesses, develop skills, and reflect on their journey through a transitional moment. Individuals going through change tend to use coaching 40% more than those in stable environments — proving that when we're going through turbulence, a support system helps us come out on the other side. 

Organizations that invest in human transformation via BetterUp benefit from data and insights on business outcomes like productivity, engagement, and resilience. This data proves the value of investing in people and can help guide future development initiatives.

Tailored support is a value add for everyone. That's where BetterUp Care can help. BetterUp Care is a customized well-being solution that supports individuals across all levels of an organization — not just leadership — with the tools they need for self-reflection and improving mental fitness.

Achieve organizational transformation by supporting individual change

Service members leaving active duty are just one example of transformation during transition. Their growth and empowerment applies to individuals working in any industry. In fact, in the UK, BetterUp coaches have helped more than 2,000 business leaders across a range of sectors achieve growth in crucial skills. On average we see:

  • +35% strategic planning
  • +24% focus
  • +14% productivity

In the end, individual empowerment translates to cultural transformation across an organization. When we become comfortable with change and learn how to grow from it, we can confidently meet every challenge that lies ahead. 

See how BetterUp works - Watch Demo

Published December 21, 2022

Leila Comerford, MSc, People Insights Consultant

Leila has worked with clients for over seven years on developing learning and development programmes. She holds a BA in Psychology from McGill University, and an MSc in Organisational Psychology from City, University of London.

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