Last week, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment made a surprising announcement: it will no longer breed orcas and phase out all theatrical entertainment shows featuring its killer whales. After fifty years in business, company CEO Joel Manby explained the park understands public attitude toward its brand has changed and the company is ready to evolve, steering a new course. This is a great lesson which proves vital for organizations struggling to connect with consumers or other businesses. The trick is knowing when, and, how businesses can deal with change.
How Businesses can Deal with Change
What we can take from this example is SeaWorld is essentially using its past to build a better future. By recognizing that change is inevitable, the park is going in a different direction. That’s a bold move, but one that’s unavoidable and is likely worthwhile. Company stock has fallen 50 percent over the last two years, Fox News reported; and, park attendance is down as public perception of its business practices increasingly grow negative. But, following the announcement, stock rebounded.
Any business in today’s fast-moving environment that is looking for the pace of change to slow is likely to be sorely disappointed. In fact, businesses should embrace change. Change is important for any organization because, without change, businesses would likely lose their competitive edge and fail to meet the needs of what most hope to be a growing base of loyal customers. —Houston Chronicle
SeaWorld is doing what it must and that’s embracing change. No doubt, the decision was a difficult one to make, but, it demonstrates a willingness to do what’s necessary; not just to survive, but to profit and grow. Among its first orders of business, the park reached out to one of its most vocal critics, the Humane Society of the United States, and formed an important strategic partnership. That’s just the beginning, though, and internally the park will have other challenges. When your company is facing the same situation, it’s critical to know how businesses can deal with change:
- Be upfront with your team members. When change is afoot, your team members will sense it. The rumor mill will begin to turn in full operation as fears and anxiety start to mount. Before panic and chaos have first chance to set-in, be proactive and be upfront with your team members. This not only demonstrates you’re a true leader, it also shows sincere respect for your team members.
- Ask for help with navigating the transition. Change affects more than your employees, it will have an impact on you, as well. Take advantage of what’s at your disposal and enlist the help of your employees, making them an active part of the process. By getting all hands on-deck, you’ll involve your team and be able to reap the benefits of more eyes, ears, and ideas.
- Show your organization a positive, new future. It’s not just enough to ask for help; so, speak brightly about the future. One that’s positive and full of hope and possibilities. You’ll need to be an anchor, a rock, someone that’s steady but also remains approachable. Your confidence will be infectious and inspiring to others.
- Offer retention packages to keep your best talent. It might be necessary to provide incentive for your best talent to stay with your business. This certainly isn’t the time to cinch down; after all, if your business is in a time of uncertainty, you should be willing to make bold moves and push forward.
Another suggestion is not to hold back bad news when it unfolds moving forward. Change involves chance and that means you can’t control every set of circumstances. If you encounter a setback, don’t hold the news back from your team as it will surely backfire.
If you’ve had such an experience, what other suggestions would you offer for businesses having to go through a transition? How did your organization deal with the circumstances to turn things around?