Arguably, the only thing constant in business is change. Industries reinvent themselves, consumers embrace new trends, and new challenges pop up around every corner. To survive these shifts, your business needs to be adaptable, and in fact, you may even want to build your corporate culture around this concept.
Tune Into Signs of Change
To respond to change, you need to know it’s on the horizon. Sometimes that’s obvious. For instance, if you’re going through a leadership change or launching a new product, you know those things are happening, and you can plan for the changes accordingly. But not all changes are so obvious, and ideally, you should be tracking data in ways that help you identify upcoming shifts.
To explain, take the case of a leading media company that was losing customers. To figure out what was happening, the company used technology to find patterns related to customer loss. Based on those trends, the company was able to predict which customers were going to leave, and then, the company’s reps could reach out to those clients and convince them not to jump ship. You may want to explore similar ways to predict changes in your own company.
Speed Up the Decision-Making Process
When change is on the horizon, your enterprise needs to be able to respond quickly. So that’s possible, you may want to look at the decision-making process in your business and adjust it as needed. If major decisions need to go through a hierarchy, it helps to tighten up that process. Is there a way to streamline communications and get big questions in front of the decision makers faster? Can you automate part of the process? You may want to consider questions like that as you look at your company’s decision making process.
Beyond that, if you want an adaptable business culture, you need to give your employees on all levels the opportunity to assess situations and make decisions. Often, that means giving employees more autonomy.
That said, as more people start making decisions, the risk of failure increases. It’s common for employees to shy away from autonomy if they’re afraid of making mistakes, and if your company isn’t tolerant of failure, that may happen. To encourage autonomy, you may want to find ways to celebrate failure. If an employee makes a decision that fails, don’t necessarily punish them. Instead, embrace the failure as a learning experience. Help your employee use that situation to their advantage in the future.
Hire for Adaptability
To complement a culture of adaptability, you need the right team. Rather than just training your employees to be more adaptable, you may want to hire people who are adaptable. Netflix, for example, does this, and the company looks for the following nine attributes in new hires:
- Communication skills
- Desire to impact the company
To assess these elements during an interview, you may want to ask candidates to describe a time they had to make an autonomous decision at work. Alternatively, you may want to ask them how they weathered a big change in their business or professional life. Their answers could reveal a lot about their ability to respond to and notice change.
Adaptability thrives when knowledge flows freely and when you encourage autonomy and risk taking. And, a diverse team with different levels of experience and unique personalities is also better suited to deal with change than a completely homogeneous team. If you want a business that rolls with the punches, you need adaptability. Luckily, there are all kinds of processes that can help to create this type of corporate culture.