Game On! - Sustainment - Managers and Coaches

Transitioning People Through Constant Change

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In my last post 'Game On! - Engagement - Players and Managers'  I discussed the engagement activities that are needed between Players and Managers, if organisations are going to be able to survive in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. In this world change is constant.

In this series of posts - 'Game On!' I am using a soccer team analogy to describe the roles that are needed in an organisation subject to constant change.

The following paragraphs are a recap of the roles. If you have read these in a previous post, please jump to section 'Game On! - Sustainment'.


Managers determine the strategy that is going to be played out and direct the gameplay. They provide instruction and motivation. Managers ensure that Coaches are receiving education and training, support, coaching and mentoring, so that they can effectively and efficiently transition Players through change. Managers ensure that Coaches and Players alike have all the sporting equipment and facilities needed to be a winning team.

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Coaches ensure that Players are game fit.  They develop the skills and capabilities of the Players

They communicate the strategy and game plan that Players are being asked to fulfil. They are change sponsors supporting and reinforcing the change.

They will receive feedback from the Players and determine if changes need to be made to the game plan. Coaches will identify resistance and establish the cause of the resistance. In conjunction with the Change Manager, remediation will be undertaken. Coaches need to keep an eye out for change fatigue and respond accordingly.

Players are ultimately the people that will win or loose the game. It is the Players that actually make things happen. They use the gameplay and capabilities with which they have been equipped to win

Change is constant for Players. Every match played is different to the one before. Players are faced with new opposition, different weather conditions, and different playing surfaces.

Players also have to rapidly respond to changing situations whilst play is underway. The opposition may change tactics that requires a change in the way the game is being played.  For Players, change is constant. New Players may join the team mid-match and playing positions may be adjusted accordingly. One minute, a Player is playing as a mid-fielder and the next minute they are in an attacking position. Team numbers may depreciate at any time due to a red-card decision by the referee. The Players have to adjust again to compensate being down in team numbers.

The sports team and the roles within it can be applied to any organisation trying to deal with constant change.

Game On! - Sustainment

In this post I would like to explore sustainment – the relationship between the Managers and the Coaches.


The Managers

The Managers are the Organisational Change Managers. They are a core change management competency and an organisational change management (OCM) centre of excellence.

Building change management competencies throughout the organisation is a key goal.

Their role is to underpin the work of the Coaches through sustainment.

The Coaches                                                                                                                        

Change coaches have to be a communicator, advocate for change, and coach. They have to identify and manage resistance.

They have to be equipped with both the skills and capability to effectively support Players through constant change.

Change Managers need to ensure that Coaches have continuing education, support and coaching so that they are prepared to help transition Players through the complexity that is constant change.

Support includes communication that reflects that being sent via Managers to Players. Managers are a single source of communication to both Coaches and Players, which ensures that communication is consistent and not subject to Chinese whispers.

Change Managers must sustain, maintain and support the Coach network. 


Sustainment consists of three key activities - educate, support, and coach and mentor.


Managers need to continually educate the Coaches so that they have the skills and capabilities (and resilience) required to enable them to be effective coaches for the Players.

Managers (the change management professionals) need to educate the Coaches about the fact that we are now living in a VUCA world and unless we embrace constant change we will not survive.

Coaches need to drive, vision, and skill to facilitate the adoption of constant change throughout the organisation.

Managers ensure that Coaches have ability to entrench the message that change is the new norm. Managers ensure the currency of Coaches proficiency and plan for future needs.

Coaches must inform Managers of any additional education, resources and capabilities they require to effectively undertake their role.

An article in Learning & Development Professional (2017) said:

“ANZ Bank recently called out the blowing up of bureaucracy and hierarchy with a need to create an agile workforce. This is consistent in the Future of Jobs report from the World Economic Forum, which indicated a displacement of traditional industries and roles with over five million roles in financial services alone likely to be automated by 2020. These recent examples highlight the need for a focus on creative and innovative thinking to address workforce issues, often at a pace organisations and individuals have not faced before.

A question we realistically need to ask ourselves is: “have we prepared all our people with behaviours, mindsets, attitudes, skills and communication to face these workplace issues in an ongoing and timely process?”

Given no Australian executives in Mercer’s 2017 Global Talent Trends Study answered yes to “is your organisation change agile?”, this would indicate there is a lot of work still to be done and the potential for organisational conflict is real”.

Addressing the need for preparation of our people with the required mindsets, behaviours, attitudes, skills and communication to deal with constant change, is both the responsibility of the Managers and Coaches.

Managers will ensure that the Coaches have all the education necessary to effectively disseminate that education to all levels of the organisation.

Managers focus in on developing leaders of change at all levels of the organisation through the Coaches network.


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Managers (the change management professionals) need to provide unremitting support for Coaches.

Coaches are operating in times of instability and uncertainty, which is not going to change anytime soon. They need the ability to remain highly effective under intense pressure.

In addition to education providing Coaches with the required skills and capabilities (e.g. communication, networking, team building), Coaches need this to be underpinned by unrelenting support.

Managers need to continually check in on the well-being and health of Coaches. In addition to the Coaches, the Managers also need a lot of empathy and excellent listening skills to determine the support Coaches need.

Support must be provided in a timely manner that meets the needs of the Coaches.

Coach and Mentor

Managers need to provide ongoing coaching and mentoring for Coaches.

Managers need to be good coaches and mentors as education is not the answer to everything.

Coaching and mentoring helps consolidate and enhance Coaches skills.

Managers can enable Coaches to engage in self-assessment, self-reflection and analysis through coaching and mentoring.

Coaching will focus on achieving specific and immediate goals whilst mentoring will focus on personal development and direction.

Mentoring gives the Coach a sounding board whilst coaching gives the Coach direction to achieve an end-goal.


In too many organisations, change agents or change networks have been tasked with driving change throughout the organisation, with little or no support and education.

In a world where change is constant and happening at high speed, reliance on the Coaches to support everyone through change, is paramount.

Managers have to ensure that Coaches have extensive and ongoing education in organisational change management and are equipped with contemporary skills, capabilities and tools to be effective.

The next post will be about the Support aspect of people transitions.  

More posts on their way over the coming weeks and months exploring how we need to take a fresh and radical look at organisational change management, and the changes we need to make if we are to thrive.

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