In 2018, SRM expanded its operations to Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Europe. This division of our firm, known as SRM Europe (srmeurope.com), services a diverse set of industries, including financial services, music entertainment, food retailing, and architecture. While these are different markets, all have been affected by the pandemic and reports across these varied verticals virtually tell the same story.
The overarching message is that organizations, of all types, need to successfully adapt to change. As we’ve recently experienced, change happens, regardless of one’s level of preparedness. However, organizations often shy away from changing course, even after the tides have shifted. As change is the only constant businesses can rely upon, a culture of adaptability, clear communications, and good relationships will help ready any organization for the challenges ahead.
Ready or Not, Here it Comes
The need to adapt to survive is in the very fiber of the human origin story, but contrary to popular belief, survival is not based on size or strength. According to Charles Darwin, “it’s not the strongest that survive, but the most adaptable.”
Along this same line of thinking, for institutions to be adaptable, they must proactively think about what changes are coming next. There are those, such as my colleagues in SRM and SRM Europe, who make it their business – and passion - to assist organizations in getting a handle on the changes coming their way.
“The two words “information” and “communication” are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is given out; communication is getting through” – Sydney J Harris
There are many nuances to balance if one is to survive and thrive in times of change. For example, consider communications and transparency. Given change is a constant…and very dramatic, on occasion…we generally recommend clear and frequent communication to foster buy-in and to build trust among all parties involved.
Three Methods for Building Better Bonds
Speaking of building trust among parties involved, here are three tips to build better relationships - whether personal or business - during times of change:
- Listen, not for the end of what someone is saying - but to what they are saying so you can respond, effectively.
- Share information in a timely fashion. Hearing about something which impacts one’s future on the news or in an email will not engender trust. In fact, when errors of this type manifest, it is usually a sign of toxic leadership.
- Meet as often as possible in person but do not meet simply to continue a cadence that “proves” a consistent and regular management style. It isn’t communication unless it’s important, relevant, and true.
Stand Together and Deliver
Finally, businesses must deliver value to stakeholders, and the comments above on communication best practices apply to that constituency as well. Though it seems a hard lesson to learn for some corporations, failure to see employees as stakeholders and not understanding they are the source of keeping stockholders happy will, in the long term, sink the ship. The ocean floor is scattered with evidence of those who were too short-term in their thinking.
Empathy is the single most important trait and it must be honed by business leadership. If you empathize with your employees, they will tend to feel better about the ways they need to adapt to be successful in leading the company to operational excellence.
The Bottom Line: Whether it’s concerning adapting to new technology, areas of oversight, or new partnerships, for those who plan to survive and thrive, change is inevitable. Yes, it is hard, but to survive and thrive, one must adapt.
All too often, the game is rigged to where the pitfalls and potholes are only avoided by someone who has already seen it all. In situations like this, seek out a guide who knows the way, communicates clearly and collaboratively, and takes pride in being an agent of change.
For more about SRM’s Operational Excellence Advisory Services for financial services, click here.