As we touched on in our last post, the fourth industrial revolution is upon us. As a leader in your organization and your industry, it’s vital that you take an active role in guiding your company through the changes ahead. To stay ahead in rapidly changing times, you will need to strive for organizational adaptability across your organization.
As the old saying goes, “if nothing changes, nothing changes.” Doing “business as usual” might have worked for years, or maybe even decades. However, continuing to do things as they’ve always been done when so much is changing in the business world… will leave you behind sooner rather than later. Without embracing change, your company may not survive.
That’s why you should strive for organizational adaptability as part of your company culture. Organizational adaptability means preparing your business to make adjustments to structures and business processes in order to achieve their goals. As an operating premise, it helps to foster innovation, continuous learning and a culture of transparency.
Here are some of the key considerations for ensuring your company strives for adaptability:
Focus On Customers
While hopefully you’ve never considered your customers as expendable, now more than ever, you can’t afford to lose customers. Customer retention should be a top priority. Superb customer experiences will ensure repeat business and can lead to a loyal and vocal customer base. Word of mouth is an exceptionally strong means of gaining new customers. It requires that you treat existing customers with utmost respect and care.
There are a number of simple ways to help foster customer loyalty. Empower your customer service representatives to meet customer needs. Focus on digital channels and virtual support to make sure customers can contact you with as little hassle as possible. Make sure that your outreach (whether it’s emails or notification) is timely and relevant.
You can and should do the simple things as well. Pick up the phone periodically and check-in on your customers to see how they are doing. Let them know that you are thinking about them and their families. Do this with your suppliers as well. Also consider forwarding your customers information that comes across your desk that they might find interesting and/or useful. It is a way to let them know that you are thinking of them.
Create Flexible Networks For Teams
As the COVID-19 crisis drove more and more employees to work from home, it became clear that infrastructure to support virtual work was no longer optional. Creating systems and policies to navigate a shift to virtual teamwork provides you with the adaptability you’ll need.
There are several important aspects to keep in mind when building virtual systems. Make sure that the right people have access to the information they need to do their work. This will likely require attention to both cybersecurity and IT assistance. Additionally, create workflows that encourage communication and check-ins between teammates and leadership teams. Regularly scheduled contact will help keep projects on track, keep employees connected, and keep minor issues from building into major problems. And make sure that the right tools are in place for their collaborative success online.
Communicate Regularly and Transparently
Digital communications allow for timely and ongoing communication with your teams. It’s important to make sure that your staff and leadership teams feel able to communicate with each other and with you. Develop a regular practice of keeping everyone apprised of changing circumstances, goals or policies. Be sure to include teams in discussions; make it a point to make space for listening; and communicate both the what and the why. This kind of continuous communication will help everyone to stay on track, informed and included.
Being adaptable means understanding that you can’t run your organization alone. Too many leaders burn out because they try to do everything themselves. This leaves employees feeling disempowered and makes it incredibly difficult to change course. You have to trust that your team will get their work done. This starts with hiring people who are a good fit. Having a clear company mission and value statement will also help ensure that you’re working with people who are on the same page.
If there isn’t trust up and down the organization, it makes it incredibly difficult to succeed.
Allow For Data-Driven Decision Making
In a rapidly changing environment, it’s more important than ever to delegate decision making. You don’t have time to manage every aspect of your business, and your leadership team needs to be empowered to make decisions based on available data. Start by making a clear list of priorities and explain to everyone how they can act on those priorities. That will allow for faster decision making and a more effective chain of command.
You don’t have time to noodle on decisions. Evaluate the information – the pros and cons, and then move forward with your decision. This can be stressful, but if you don’t make information-based decisions quickly, you could get left behind. Your competition will.
Especially in unpredictable times, the idea of encouraging risk-taking can seem counterintuitive. However, innovation means making leaps. As a leader, it’s important that you push your team to think outside the box and take chances on their ideas.
Readily Accept Mistakes
People won’t learn if we don’t take risks and make mistakes. Learning inevitably involves setbacks or missed opportunities. But the truth is that you can’t win big is you don’t take a swing. If you want your organization to adapt, you want people to flourish from taking risks, even if they fail.