Stay Well, Stay Safe and Stay Innovative!

December 30, 2020, 12:43 PM EST

By now, I think it’s safe to say that no one could have forecast the total shutdown of the global economy. The scars will remain for a long time. It’s clear to everyone the significant loss, particularly for those of us in the hospitality industry, on not just revenues but also mental health. This experience has been different for everyone. But rather than focus on what we have lost, it is time to start exploring the future – how grit and resilience will help us through. We can allow ourselves to think creatively and unconventionally to see our way through this crisis. It might be frustrating to hear people tell us that we should concentrate on growth and opportunity when we feel like pivoting is hard, but those same entrepreneurial qualities that led us to run our businesses are still necessary! The belief and positivity and determination, the passion and inspiration behind your vision, and the ability to bring people with you, the problem solving and the drive – all of these personality traits along with the authenticity of your business will go a long way to bridging the gaps in this time of uncertainty.

What has been most challenging for a lot of business owners has been the uncertainty of this year. How can we thrive under these conditions? I recently attended a keynote address given by Dr Anita Sands, who has spent years studying the anatomy of high performing teams – how they perform under pressure and exceed expectations.
She broke it down neatly into the ABCD model:

  • Awareness
  • Belonging
  • Curiosity
  • Drive

A: Awareness comprises both self-awareness and situational awareness. A crisis surfaces inequalities. Ask ourselves, how did this crisis find me? What broadens me? What depletes me? What’s my bucket of authentic wealth to draw on? We can reflect on what we have to bring to the table. By looking at ourselves, we can see how we want to respond, rather than how we react. Situationally we know that there are different demands placed on us. We also understand that we need to put our own oxygen mask on first.

Curiosity is a superpower…it enables resilience because it allows us to think of all we stand to gain rather than lose.

B: A crisis surfaces priorities. If you don’t have the sense of belonging, you will drift off. For our employees, they may well be asking themselves the existential question “what’s keeping me here?”. We need to build a sense of acceptance – not just being included on the team – and build a level of organisational trust so that all employees feel valued. Functional belonging can be described as knowing why you all belong together. Having utmost clarity of purpose and a shared frame of reference. It is fuel for the collective tank. You have enabled belonging when your employees cannot imagine being anywhere else.

C: Curiosity is a superpower! It is one of 2 things that can get us out of fight or freeze mode. Curiosity allows us to de-risk ourselves from being overwhelmed by fear or grief. It reorients your relationship with change. We can ask “what are the things I was able to do that I wouldn’t have done otherwise?”. Curiosity enables resilience because it allows us to think of all we stand to gain rather than lose.

D: High performing teams are unapologetic about certain things – the need for rest being one of them. The importance of rest, recovery and respite means that you have to be ruthless in how efficiently you allocate time and resources. We all need to be far more intentional in how we spend time and why. When energy is already low, we don’t want to involve everyone if they don’t need to be. We allow our teams to recover and do what it takes to find equilibrium again. We recognise what people have been through and ask them what they need to be replenished. Then reorient them and offer support, reengaged intentionally as we head towards the new year.

The Spanish flu caused much devastation during 1918-1921. But the 1920s proved to be the most innovative era in modern history. When humans are faced with a real threat, we respond with incredible entrepreneurial force. We have all no doubt learned a lot about our business this year. I have spoken to larger hotel owners who have branched out and started offering “dine at home kits” and created a whole new revenue stream for the business. Hotel owners who have decided to keep the 2m/6ft distance between tables in their restaurant because they think it makes for a better dining experience. Hotels who have made changes to their non-residential service offering because they have realised there is no profit in bowls of soup or cups of tea. Hotels who have decided to no longer offer single night stays and have a minimum of 2 nights because they think it makes their P&L simpler and because it gives guests the chance to really enjoy their stay. It has also given some hoteliers the chance to ask themselves “how do we become a better company?”. There has been opportunity for upskilling and training that perhaps was always deprioritised before this. There is no doubt that this situation will end, so let us resolve to make the changes that make us known for being a great company and to lead with hope and optimism.