It’s said that when someone’s mindset shifts, everything around them can change at the same time, and in our current setting, the importance of being in the right headspace, both personally and as an organization, can’t be discussed enough.

Many of us have lived through previous downturns and felt the pang of anxiety as cancellations cascade. However, the quick rebound from these events has meant that the lessons learnt have often been forgotten as swiftly as they’ve arrived. We’re busy—many of us too busy—and as KPIs again begin to be met, bigger picture conversations often become far too punishing to contemplate and make a reality.

This year of 2020 is (fortunately and unfortunately) different and represents a unique opportunity to press reset on our minds, as well as our approach. With both rapidly-changing conditions and space to reflect, we have the opportunity to collectively contemplate with a greater spirit of openness and creativity than we have in previous years, which in time has the chance to manifest in a range of ways.
The trickle-down effect of a changed headspace

Change has to begin somewhere. Whether you’re the leader of your team or not, the way a changed mindset is initially landed upon, and can then go on to positively impact others, can be one of the greatest joys of working in a team.

Personally, ‘openness’ and ‘creativity’ are the two broad, positive traits that I see as most worthwhile in developing. As they take shape throughout businesses during this COVID period, I’ve found that powerful change can take place.

Theoretically, personal change can happen instantly, but there are a number of things to be aware of as you look to actively seed any change in mindset through a team or entire organization, and not just leave it at a high level.
1. Explain the upsides: Having one person thinking in an open and creative way unfortunately isn’t enough, and in fact can become frustrating and build tensions if everyone isn’t in the loop. “What’s the point in going through this now? Won’t this take time to research? What we’ve been doing has worked fine for so long, it will be able to get us through this too...”

It’s vital that the upsides of any major shift in thinking are well described and explained, so that everyone can feel proud of the direction and day-to-day process changes that will end up being impacted.

2. Ensure influential team members are championing the cause: As an extension of my previous point, for any message to properly sink in, it needs to be reiterated by team members that have broad influence within the team or business. These are champions who are passionate about a change in thinking taking place, and can see the upside of working more openly and creatively, or whatever new values you’re rolling out. When multiple people begin to seed the message out, a sense of mutual commitment is able to build naturally, and barriers can come down.

3. Reverberate at the same frequency as your technology partners: When your business is aligned internally, decide whether those you work alongside, beyond your walls, have the capacity to help your headspace come to life in practice. Thoughts have physical manifestations, and as your team or organization begins to think differently, you need to match your wavelength with equally open and nimble partners.

As one totally unbiased example, for a revenue manager looking at a potential hotel distribution partner, it would be important to know that the provider will allow you to flex and pivot quickly, and that you’ll have the power to change strategy at any moment throughout the day. In the current setting, being light on your feet is everything, and a decision made at lunch time should always be able to be reversed at the end of the day, if needed.

4. Make openness more achievable for your people in their day-to-day: By building vehicles for your people to be open, you allow a changed mindset to meaningfully take shape in practice. This can happen in a number of ways, from higher ups encouraging idea sharing, to building out activities that allow staff to better tap into their own creativity.

In the context of technology, to cultivate openness, it’s important that the systems you’re using aren’t overly complex (depending on your requirements) and are intuitive to learn. This is particularly true in the current environment where it has fallen upon a smaller number of people to do the same amount of work through COVID. To provide a specific example in a distribution context, to have a piece of technology that you could quickly train up your reservations manager, front office or even housekeeping to use, would be ideal.

Reframing the challenge of COVID-19

A challenge can be both daunting and exciting, depending on the lens you're viewing it through. And, in this way, how much you choose to lean into both openness and creativity in the months ahead will ultimately dictate the approach you take to recovery, as the travel industry slowly picks itself up and rebuilds.

If it’s appropriate for your teams, consider the challenge set and, with every decision, always check in on your mindset as the very first step. Unlike previously, this is a lesson that we have the time to absorb. Let’s make it count.