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Aligning all leadership levels behind change strategy

Daniel Lock, Principal at Daniel Lock Consulting, explains why effective change management only happens if leaders and executives at all levels are aligned.

Video transcript below:

Daniel Lock, Principal, Daniel Lock Consulting
Daniel Lock:
 Most people don’t avoid change, that’s the big common fallacy of change, everybody resists change and they hate change.  Well actually it’s not the people who avoid change, they really don’t like ambiguity and uncertainty and behavioural scientists have known about it for a long time.  When there is lots of ambiguity, people will act as if they had no information at all and so the lesson for change managers and change leaders is to reduce ambiguity at every step.
Reporter:  Successful change management often eludes companies.  So what is the key to smooth transitions?  We spoke to Consultant, Daniel Lock, who says that any change fundamentally affects executives leading it.

Daniel Lock:  Change absolutely affects executives fundamentally, because fundamentally they are one of the most important, if not the most important part of the whole process.  Leadership is just critical and so change affects leaders in a curious way.  It’s because they first need to get themselves aligned and clear on the change, so that their behaviour follows and that’s a really important point because everybody is going to be looking at that leader for the type of behaviour that they should be modelling, that executive is going to be setting the same set of values through the kind of incentives and measurements they put in place and the kind of people they hire to support this change.

Reporter:  Lock says, that talent analytics and big data play an increasingly important role in change management, because they make the whole process measurable.

Daniel Lock:  I think that talent analytics can help because most people do not set good metrics for their change initiatives.  They don’t fully understand the role of say a change manager or a change leader needs to play in an organisation.  They understand project management pretty well, they understand how to set budgets around delivery, but they don’t always understand how to set metrics around change and so talent metrics I think will help in that sense.  We need to have good leading indicators for a project, give us an insight to whether we are falling behind and whether people are likely to adopt the project.  And so what I use is a tool called a buy-in index and that’s a little simple tool where I ask a random survey of people some questions about leadership, buy-in and you know how things are progressing in the project and so on, targeting a few carriers around, then being ready, willing and able and what that does is gives me a sense of where the change might be falling down, for example in leadership.

Reporter:  Finally Lock stresses the importance of aligning middle management with the change process.

Daniel Lock:  We spoke about top leadership and executive leadership and how change affects them , but what about middle leadership, the engine room of organisations is your front line leader, they are just critical.  People are observing their front line leaders, their immediate managers for everything and they in the behaviour that they display is the behaviour that they will take up.  And so if a front line leader is saying oh, coming into a meeting and say this is what the top brass is telling us to do this week and just reads the debate what’s on the email or the memo item in the team meeting, but doesn’t really have a strong code of action.  He is not really demonstrating the behaviour, not using the new process, the new system and so on.  Do you think the front line leaders, the front line employees are going to take this on, you think when a customer calls up they are going to give them the new information properly.  Do you think they are going to take accountability for their new behaviour and they won’t and that’s because the front line leader is not behind it and so absolutely critical is to change, is engaging and making sure you have the buy in of those front line leaders throughout the organisation.