Most agree that change is the only constant in business today. Therefore, businesses that are able to handle change effectively, in good times and bad, flourish. Unfortunately, research tells us that only one transformation in three succeeds. So, what can small business owners do to increase their ability to lead change?
Like many other industries, the meetings and events industry, continues to evolve with four generations working together, new technologies and different jobs. This requires stronger than ever leadership skills, starting with the ability to recruit people who are comfortable in a world of change.
Recruiting Adaptable People
Darwin wrote, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, it is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Key to screening for this adaptability is asking behavioral based interview questions such as the following:
- Describe a major change that occurred in a job that you held. How did you adapt to this change?
- Tell me about a situation in which you had to adjust to changes over which you had no control. How did you handle it?
- Tell me about a time that you had to adapt to a difficult situation.
- What do you do when priorities change quickly? Give one example of when this happened.
The expectations are high for meeting and event professionals when it comes to back up plans and ones ability to change. For example, implementing a contingency plan for unexpected weather to ensure outdoor event attendees remain safe and still have fun. In addition, meeting and event professionals are often called upon to help clients successfully manage changes such as mergers and acquisitions.
Leading Four Different Generations
This is the first time in American history that four different generations are working side-by-side in the workplace–Veterans, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Yers. Each generation is motivated differently and comes with varying learning, communication and recognition preferences. Therefore, impacting recruiting, building teams and leading change. For example, boomers are motivated by leaders who value their opinion and learned experience, whereas Gen Xers are motivated by the opportunity to do things their own way.
Looking at communication, interns typically turn to email and social media first and seasoned professionals prefer phone or face-to-face communication. While businesses may establish standard operating procedures, most important is learning the client’s communication preference.
Key to effectively leading the four different generations in the workplace is first learning about the needs of each group, being open to more one-on-one leadership, and customization. In other words, flexibility and adaptability!
Keeping Up with Ever Changing Technology
The rate of technological advancements continues at lightening speed and offers meeting and event planners opportunities to become more efficient and exceed clients’ expectations. From project management software to LED lighting to projection mapping to gamification, the opportunities seem endless. Keeping up with the advancements is a challenge in itself but one that must not be ignored to remain competitive.
Continuous learning is essential to keeping up with technology changes. Participation in industry conferences, tradeshows and webinars, as well as holding lunch and learns with suppliers are some ways to stay up to speed.
New technology has also resulted in the creation of different jobs such as social media and content marketing — new jobs that may be accomplished by staffing with a permanent position or outsourcing. Either way, it’s more change to manage.
How Prepared Are You To Successfully Lead Change?
So, how prepared are you for changes to come this year? It could be your competition, your client’s preferences, your supplier’s fees, or your partner’s decision to retire. Is your business capable of managing change successfully? Do you have people in place who will thrive in a world of change, or will they fold when the stakes are at their highest?
Tips for Successful Change Leadership
- Both strong leadership and top down support ultimately drives successful change.
- Clear, consistent, and transparent communication.
- Employee involvement will help garner their support.
- Identify those who refuse to embrace change and if all else fails agree to disagree and part ways.
- Be a great listener, noting reactions, emotional trigger points and opportunities for further discussion.
Change is not going away. So continue to enable your business to better evolve or get left behind.
Kathy Miller, Total Event Resources owner and president