Creating change agents of hospitality

There is no doubt that the pandemic has changed the hospitality industry and its people. It was a change in which we ended up being mainly passive observers – powerless to change the course of the pandemic, government decisions, and the impact that the pandemic was having on travelling and purchasing decisions of our guests.

The impact of this change financially in the UK is estimated by UKHospitality at £80.8bn of lost sales in the first 12 months of Covid. However, we are yet to see the full impact on the staffing levels, industry staff retention and the health and wellbeing of those who have stayed loyal to hospitality and worked all the way through these challenges.

Hospitality response – makers of our own destiny

Once we had gone through all the stages of the Kubler-Ross change curve (a model used by individuals and organisations to help people understand their reactions to significant change or loss), we could see the hospitality spirit waking up and businesses and individuals taking the change processes in their own hands.

We could see amazing Michelin star takeaway menus, hotel premises being repurposed, teams that have never worked remotely being amazingly agile and finding ways to efficiency in the new circumstances.

We could see amazing Michelin star takeaway menus, hotel premises being repurposed, teams that have never worked remotely being amazingly agile and finding ways to efficiency in the new circumstances.

Agile change management approach

The key in the survival and the faster recovery for some of the organisations Umbrella Training has been working with is the choice to be an active player with a holistic approach to change management.

Rather than mothballing the development programmes and investment plans, these organisations decided to support their people through the change curve and apply concepts like resilient leadership, agile communication, stronger partnering with stakeholders and utilising blended learning models.

This comprehensive set of actions is outlined by Deloitte management consultants in their comprehensive report “Combating COVID-19 with an agile change management approach” that was recently published as one of the pathways to success in keeping the organisation competitive.

Why do we need to continue to change in an agile manner?

The world around is not waiting for us to settle in our new working environments. Just as we think we have settled on a course of action – things evolve and require us to adjust.

Melanie Franklin, a highly respected thought leader in change management and firm advocate of agile change management techniques, explains that the frequency of change generated by agile approaches is far higher and that, when adopting this, we create mini waves of change.

These mini waves of change all contribute to successful adaptation to new ways of working. The most important part is supporting people whilst riding on these waves of change, and allowing them to be part of it from the very beginning. Hospitality can embrace this.

Issues with change and change initiatives

Despite change being the only constant we can rely on, humans have not taken easily to this definition. Change brings with it fear of losing status, fear of being able to use the new technology, being able to learn new ways of working. The majority of people dislike change because of the perceived uncertainty that it brings with it. We’ve seen this across business over the course of the pandemic period. Managing change successfully has become one of the key leadership skills in the hospitality industry today.

Making change management more effective

It is paramount for the organisations involved in the change to support their stakeholders by providing the following:

  • Information – at every stage of the process and in a format relevant to their audience.
  • Involvement – asking for feedback and input; working on hearing all the voices who will be impacted by the change.
  • Support – open doors policy for people to be able to explore their personal challenges with change.
  • Structure – clarity on how the change will work, who to speak to if they have issues, how to get involved, what the desired outcome of the change should be.

Role of the apprenticeships in managing change

Author and entrepreneur Seth Godin, has said: “Our job is obvious: We need to get out of the way, shine a light, and empower a new generation to teach itself and to go further and faster than any generation ever has.”

Apprentices are perfect change agents. They have capacity to be critical friends, they bring different perspective to a business and by developing future-fit skills like agility and autonomy – we are building future leaders who are not afraid of agile change.

Apprentices can support businesses with horizon-scanning and scan the external environment to help predict changes in the labour market. Apprenticeship programmes can be a perfect platform to support changes to processes, performance expectations and culture in general. Apprentices can be emissaries of change, sharing their experience and engaging others in the organisation that might have a more stagnant view.

There is always a temptation to go down the route of a path well-travelled. What if we empowered our apprentices to be change generators? Talent attraction, recruitment days, training – these are great examples where your apprentices could help you create new waves of change by hearing their voices.


Filed Under: HospitalityIndustrycovid-19

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