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How business leaders can adapt to the new normal

Chris Edger, Professor of Multi-Unit Leadership at Birmingham City University and with over 20 years’ experience of multi-unit service operations, discusses how Operations Directors can adapt and win in the Covid-19 ‘new normal’. Insight from business leaders.
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Photo of Chris Edgar, Professor of Multi-Unit Leadership at Birmingham City University

How business leaders can adapt to the new normal

Chris Edger, Professor of Multi-Unit Leadership at Birmingham City University and with over 20 years’ experience of multi-unit service operations, discusses how Operations Directors can adapt and win in the Covid-19 ‘new normal’. Insight from business leaders.
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Photo of Chris Edgar, Professor of Multi-Unit Leadership at Birmingham City University

My new book, Outstanding Operations Directors – 31 Case Studies Showcasing Excellence, has been written for ambitious hospitality and leisure area managers who wish to ascend to the level of Operations Director.

It is also designed for professionals already in the role who want to outperform their competitive set, as well as their recruiters and developers.

Researched during the Covid-19 pandemic, it advances an outstanding model and framework (containing nine key competencies and 27 essential practices) contextualised around the new normal.

It was constructed through interviewing 27 business leaders from multi-site hospitality organisations such as The Stonegate Group, McDonald’s, Caffé Nero, Greene King, Marston’s, Premier Inn, Mitchells and Butlers, and many more.

What skills are needed in the new normal?

When it comes to working in a Covid-19 landscape, the senior interviewees for the book highlighted six technical, behavioural and cognitive skills that Operations Directors need to ramp up in the future in order to grow their businesses.

These included:

1). Customer experience design skills

Ongoing Covid-19 restrictions threaten to depersonalise and dilute hospitality customer experiences.

Operations Directors of the future will need to find new ways to generate uplifting memories for their customers that perpetuates a visceral craving to keep visiting their venues during these challenging times.

2). Workplace wellbeing skills

Going into the pandemic, employee wellbeing issues were coming to the fore. However, Covid-19 has accelerated this workplace epidemic.

Over the coming years, more time will need to be devoted towards providing meaningful workplace mental health support to safeguard levels of employee retention, engagement and discretionary effort.

3). AI and service and mechanisation skills

The major cost in the hospitality sector is labour, which has been exacerbated by the wage hikes triggered by Brexit-induced staff shortages.

AI and service mechanisation will reduce some of the repetitive, mundane tasks that staff currently have to do, enabling businesses to reduce labour costs.

There is a real need for professionals to master these innovations to ensure that their businesses do not lose their magic and personality.

4). Digital and sales marketing skills

Prior to the pandemic, the hospitality industry was lagging behind other sectors in terms of digital innovation. However, Covid-19 accelerated the sector’s adoption of digital ‘select/book/order/deliver/pay’ solutions.

Operations Directors of the future must quickly buy into and adapt to the service cycle changes wrought by these new ways of doing business or prepare to fail big.   

5). Big data analysis skills

The data flowing from digital adoption will yield a plethora of information on customer habits, needs and desires.

Those that want to get ahead will be able to decipher key insights from this voluminous data in order to inform their value-added decision making, increasing their organisations’ velocity to market.

6). Project management skills

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Operations Directors and their teams had to implement new initiatives and systems within extremely tight timeframes.

However, Covid-19 is a challenge that is not going to go away soon.

Operations Directors will continue to need to hone and develop high-class project management skills that maintain their organisations’ responsiveness and adaptability to further disruption and shocks. 

Much-needed research

Although it’s only been a short time since the launch, my new book has been received enthusiastically by the hospitality sector, as well as trending high on the Amazon book sales charts.

Clearly, there is a demand for this kind of research enquiry, which produces a definitive leadership route map for the Operations Directors of the future.

Chris Edger is the author of thirteen books on field leadership, service branding, events, franchising and advanced business coaching. His latest book is available now.

Looking to address some of the skills shortages addressed in this piece? Click the link below to learn more about STEM-Up Workplace Skills.

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