How will we Use Chaos As A Catalyst For Positive Change?

Often times, ideas come once we simply shift perspectives—yes, even now. While chaos and uncertainty are buzz words that lead market headlines immediately, future-forward brand leaders do just that. They’re thinking further down the road, arm-in-arm with a workforce that may lend momentum to their efforts. the way to do this? Start with transparency and communication when collaborating across teams. Reconsider what job roles and functions appear as if in your organization, especially if you’ve had to put off or furlough employees. I spoke with Vern Greco, the president/CEO of Pacific Group Resorts on how he's finding opportunity for the longer term during this time of crisis by turning his attention to his employees.

Click HERE to look at the video interview or read below for the transcript

Jeff Fromm: My question to you is how should we expect about an opportunity while we're staring chaos within the face?

Vern Greco: Yeah, it is a dedicated question. And Jeff, thanks for having me with you today. It's nice to be here. You know, I can think about two examples for the discussion today about how chaos can actually civil rights, in a minimum of our company, one in every of those being communication and therefore the second being probably a more important or more significant change, and that is a cultural shift for our employees. Let me start by just saying, I feel everybody would agree that the shock and awe period of C-19 is behind us, and what we have left now within the vacuum may be a lot of uncertainty.

A challenge is to balance that uncertainty with some vision and a few confidence. I exploit the word balance, and that I use it intentionally because the uncertainty goes to be here for a long time, maybe even a protracted time. I do not think we're visiting replace that uncertainty. So we have to succeed in some balance here in our vision and our confidence to travel together with the uncertainty.

So I might say the primary opportunity that we have out of this chaos centers around communication, and one in every one of the items I visit our people about all the time is that there is an overarching principle when you're handling uncertainty, and that is the importance of communication. you simply simply cannot over-communicate, whether it's from the CEO right down to senior management, or whether it's from the senior managers right down to the center managers, middle managers to employees, and during this particular case, of real interest and importance, I feel even resolute our groups of the furloughed employees. they will need communication the maximum amount as, if no more, than anybody.

We've experienced, frankly, a replacement standard of communication within the midst of this chaos. I visit the final managers of these five properties, not necessarily more frequently but more frequently across the complete enterprise. We move as a gaggle more often than we ever have before, and it has been very beneficial because everybody hears the identical thing at the identical time. We're all on the identical page. There's some idea sharing that goes on there and a few collaboration that I feel hasn't happened in a number of the opposite formats, and that I would hope that that new standard of communication are around for a protracted time after this crisis is over.

I would ask the question, what CEO or perhaps what brand wouldn't prefer to have an enviable level of communication manifest itself as a result of this C-19? We'd all prefer to start off of this going, you recognize what, we're plenty better communicators than we wont to be, and that we take pleasure in it.

Secondly, and like I said, I feel maybe more significantly, more impactful, maybe a change that's visiting focus on our employees. it is a fundamental cultural shift, or a minimum of I hope it is a fundamental cultural shift. there is a Harvard graduate school analysis that befell as a result of the 2008 recession, which analysis or case study shows that the businesses that made the deepest and therefore the most severe cuts during that recession were the slowest to recover and that I don't think that's a coincidence. More importantly, that analysis shows the businesses that invested, I do not mean just invested money, but just invested time and energy and money and real bonafide effort in their people, in their teams, during that downturn, those companies recovered faster and were more competitive within the wake of the 2008 recession. I exploit that as a form of inspiration for the idea for this next opportunity as a result of chaos.

Now, before the COVID-19 crisis, people, and once I say, people, I mean our team members, was one in every of the three highest or top challenges this company faced. We had 3% unemployment across the corporate. We had an awfully robust economy. Our business is of a seasonal nature. When the winter business is as is, but we also, like most areas nowadays, have a summer business furthermore. and people's summer businesses are important to us. So we've got peaks and that we have valleys, and that we have transitions between those, and therefore the combination of these things really made the recruiting and retention, I might say professional development, compensation, and benefits plans, challenging across the board. each one of the properties, from the tiny form of properties to the biggest of them, irrespective of whether we're just outside of Charlottesville within the case of Wintergreen, Virginia or whether we're in Mount Washington or on Vancouver Island, those people will [inaudible 00:05:41] those human capital issues are very challenging for us.

I would say that is the case in most mountain resort communities across the country. Hey, because I travel in and out of ski resorts all across the country. There's hardly an employer in one in every of these mountain resort communities that might have told you they were 100% staffed before the COVID-19 crisis. That itself might be., one in each of the challenges, it might be a proverbial solacement for us, kicking off of this. once I say that what I mean is that as we glance at a possible restart here, and you're getting down to hear within the news today, I feel it absolutely was the loudest in today's news about reopening the economy and reopening businesses, reopening the country, looking on how you'd prefer to characterize that.

Rather than simply calling back those employees who've been furloughed, and it is a big number of employees if you imagine five ski resorts spread across North America. we have plenty of individuals on furlough, rather like almost every other company does out there. instead of simply calling them back consistent with what I might call a pre-COVID-19 operating plan, okay, we had this many FTEs and most aren't met, so we're visiting ramp this up, but let's act and call everybody back. I'm really intrigued by the concept of this cultural shift. I would like to require a glance at changing the character of jobs from being pretty specialized, to a way higher degree of multitasking, some shared knowledge, shared accountability.

As an example, almost every ski area features a lift maintenance department in which the same ski area will have a vehicle maintenance department. Those guys are pretty seasonal with maintenance guys, you know, seasonal, vehicle maintenance, because we have plenty of wheeled vehicles during the winter, not nearly the maximum amount wheeled vehicle within the summertime. I do know you have some summer maintenance to require care of. Your demand and your need for people varies plenty with the season, building maintenance, as well.

I really prefer to create a smaller but more high powered group of virtually hybrid jobs, super jobs where that group of maintenance people can work all the way across the platform for us. And once I say that, it's extremely easy, wouldn't be wrong for somebody to mention, "Oh look, you're just looking to cram down on your headcount again. All you're trying to try and do is reduce some labor costs." But to inform you the important true objective isn't solely to cut back that labor cost but to form an improved place to figure, an area that pulls a better quality team member, somebody who makes a greater contribution thereto team. As a result of making that greater contribution to the team, they will be better compensated. Ultimately, it results in better retention, higher job satisfaction, and a culture that I feel is infused with positive energy.

Listen, I'm keenly aware that change in culture isn't to be taken lightly. I used to be during a lecture many, a few years ago at Harvard graduate school, and Drucker cited his famous, famous statement that culture eats strategy for breakfast. And it's absolutely true. All right, so I do not take this lightly. Will or not it's easy? But in our workplace today and during this country, not bearing industry, there are plenty of things that were once considered impossible or perhaps impractical or too difficult to pursue, until all of a sudden, they weren't. But if we're cursed with chaos, we would furthermore use this as a catalyst for a few positive change. So there are two examples.

The Useful Brand Series is an ongoing collection of interviews that will inspire fresh thinking and hopefully a touch of optimism as we prepare and adapt to what’s ahead. Each interview answers one question to think about to be creative, get practical, and help people through this difficult time. Have an issue you'd like answered within the Useful Brand Series? Send them my thanks to [email protected]