Think about all of the aspects of your business that have changed over the past twenty years. Perhaps you’ve been in this field long enough to remember having to call the local newspaper to post a “help wanted” classified ad for you when you had an open position. (You probably paid by the line and were upsold on a boldface title.) Or maybe you remember when your sales team's primary method of generating leads was the good-old-fashioned "cold call"!
Fortunately, new technologies have revolutionized how those tasks are handled. Today, recruiters can post job ads themselves with two minutes of typing and a few mouse clicks (and without having to play phone tag with anyone!). And although cold calls are still around, they’ve largely been supplanted by new outreach methods, such as social media, corporate websites, online social networking, and new forms of print media (such as branded magazines).
Now think about how the industry has addressed other types of challenges over the past couple of decades—or even in just the past couple of years. In addition to the usual advertising of open positions and working on new ways to generate leads, companies also have to deal with the current talent shortage and increasing rates of staff turnover. I’ve discussed solutions to those problems on other occasions, but right now I want to underscore this very important point: no matter what industry you’re in and what challenges you’re facing, you need to be able to handle change.
Long-term planning is important, of course. But for a variety of reasons, even the best-laid plans can go awry. Companies with quick reflexes can often recover from surprises. But their responses are still just reactions. Rather than wait for the unexpected to come down the pike and figure out at that moment how to deal with it, why not prepare? The key is to focus on seeking out and addressing challenges in the following areas:
Staffing: Where will you get your people—and can you get them when you need them?
Operations: Operational efficiency lies at the heart of a successful business.
Culture: A strong, unified corporate culture encourages collaboration and a sense of belonging that enables all employees to have a stake in the company’s success. Have you done a culture checkup lately?
Leadership: Great leaders who know the market inside out often have instincts that let them predict trends and outcomes almost as accurately as a crystal ball could. What can you do to develop your leadership, either by cultivating current members of the company or by bringing new leaders on board?
Competition: Don't hesitate to emulate your competitors if they see a trend before you do. (At the same time be ready to learn learn from their mistakes, too!)
Obviously, no one can predict the future. But with some thoughtful self-analysis, research, and open-mindedness, you can make some progress toward anticipating what will change and knowing ahead of time how to adapt to it.