Can your management team adapt to rapid change? Asks Bob Morrell managing director, Reality Training

Over the last 17 years, we have been involved in many change programmes. In travel, the majority of these have been about moving with the times, from one set of behaviours to another where service standards need consistency or a new management structure has been created.

These projects have grown to the point where, if you are someone who can lead change, devise programmes and implement those plans, then you become a very desirable option for a travel business. New titles have emerged such as ‘head of enablement’ or ‘customer service experience director’ ‘head of transformation’ or ‘change director’; titles designed to make sure ‘change’ is a continual part of your business. The best change programmes we have seen in recent years have contained all of the following:

  1. Top-down participation
  2. Strong leadership
  3. Multi-media and social-media elements
  4. Coaching development for managers
  5. Embedding processes
  6. Pro-active feedback sessions
  7. Consistent follow up
  8. Actionable ideas that are implemented

If you look at the confusion and uncertainty over Brexit, these ‘change’ types, the leaders, strategists and theorists; even analysts, become important. You may well have decided on your approach to your travel business but you still need to be able to adapt and these people can make sure you’re as ready as possible to do that.

So look at your management population, many will be efficient doers and some will be great leaders – and ask the question, how good at they at adapting to rapid change? Do you need to hire a ‘change enabler’ who can be an essential participant? Larger travel brands will already have these people in place – uncertainty will make smaller companies look at their talent pool for help on this subject, and may have to look externally.

At the same time, that expertise, as important as it is, comes on the back of years of change for your people. Over the last 10 years, your people will have seen programmes come and go, and some, quite rightly, will have a heavy degree of cynicism about ‘yet another’.

The difference this time of course, is that this change programme is not a directors whim or an imposed requirement because of new HR rules, or a strategic imperative due to changing times. It’s not a new piece of CRM software, or moving to a new, swish building, or the installation of a new coffee machine. This is the biggest change to the UK for over 50 years. It has the potential to be pretty disastrous, maybe not too bad, or a perhaps little better than we expected and whatever the outcome we must try and be ready.