Transitional Management

Leading the Change - Best Practice for Transitional Management - By Petra Deuter

One of the questions I’m asked most often when supporting change programs for hotels and resorts is, 'What will make our change process successful?' That question is usually followed, or even pre-empted, by 'How can we prevent our change process going wrong?'

HTrends In my experience, which covers many change projects for hotels and resorts, leadership is a key factor in determining whether you achieve your objectives. As a Property Owner, CEO, Managing Director or any other senior executive, your input and support for your external change consultant can contribute significantly to the success of your project.
This doesn’t mean all the onus and pressure is on you. You will, I assume, hire an external change manager with an in-depth understanding of hospitality and hotels. You’ll rightly expect them to take charge and deliver, but there’s much you can do to increase the chances of them – and you – succeeding.
Have the courage of your convictions
The road to successful change is often strewn with objections and obstacles. Don’t let them discourage your progress. Once you have established a viable set of change management goals, stick to them.
Leadership is about convincing others to follow you. Showing firm, unflappable leadership inspires confidence in all stakeholders and allows your change manager to get on with their task. You’ve chosen them carefully, so make it clear that you trust them.
Share your aims and be resolute
Communicate the goals of your change program clearly and positively. Stakeholders at all levels are more likely to be supportive and cooperative if they understand the reason for change, and are kept informed of progress.
Make sure your communications and actions are consistently on-program. Conflicting messages or sudden changes of direction are destabilizing and confusing.
You may have to make unpopular decisions, such as redundancies, but it’s essential to concentrate on the change management program as a whole, rather than weaken it by appeasing individuals. As the saying says, “Everybody’s darling is everybody’s fool”. It’s the future of your hotel, resort or hospitality business that’s at stake.


Set reasonable targets
Naturally you want to see results as soon as possible, and keep your change management budget within reasonable limits. However if the business has been struggling and unprofitable for several years, it’s not realistic to expect change to happen overnight.
The fact that you have chosen to initiate a change management program and hire expert external assistance shows strength and foresight on your part. So don’t be tempted to cut it short, just to save on consultancy fees; see it through to the end, when you can confidently engage a permanent manager.
Provide sufficient resources
You may be under financial pressure and scrutiny from the Board, but it’s still vital to provide your external change manager and their team with the resources they need. Your consultant will have developed an effective change management program, so your investment now will repay you handsomely in the future.
Similarly, you should provide your change manager with realistic rewards. Change isn’t instant, so basing their incentives on revenues or profits achieved within six weeks of taking on the assignment is unrealistic. Consider other tangible success-oriented goals that will give your change manager proper motivation.
Listen to the expert
Hopefully you’ve taken on a consultant because of their experience and expertise. If you’ve chosen them because they think like you, the net result will just be consensus rather than progress.
Your consultant may propose creative ideas that are challenging and you may feel uncomfortable with. Listen to their opinions and concerns, and give them the opportunity to prove the value of their ideas. You’ve hired an expert consultant, not an employee, so you shouldn’t expect them to do everything your way! It can be difficult if you’re used to taking all the key decisions yourself, but it’s important to delegate real authority, and resist the temptation to interfere.
Remember, the reputation of any consultant is only as good as their last assignment. They will secure their next appointment on the basis of the transformation they achieve for you, so trust your change manager – they are striving for mutual, not individual success.
Make sure you support them too, both personally and visibly to the rest of your organization. When you’re united, you can generate support. If you’re divided, you’ll create confusion.
Ensure a smooth succession
You want your change program to produce sustainable results, so succession planning, and hiring the right person to carry on after the change management process, is critically important. The change consultant understands the role’s requirements and company vision, so they should write the new manager’s job description and take part in the hiring process. Your consultant will know which candidate has the necessary skills and ambition.
When the permanent manager takes over, they may need to make some adjustments to accommodate your business evolution and changing circumstances. But you should be wary of drastic deviations from the course your consultant recommended. Make sure the new manager doesn’t impose another vision and organizational agenda, which could derail your whole carefully planned process and cause you to miss your targets.
At this stage, you may want to bring your change consultant back temporarily to monitor progress, so make sure you part on good terms!
The qualities of change management leadership
As a successful change management leader, you’ll know when to take direct control, and when to stand back. You’ll be observant, sensitive to situations and individuals, and find more reasons to praise than to criticize. You’ll state the objectives clearly and encourage a sense of security among your people by defining the territory for individual action.
Most of all, you’ll provide motivation and support for their change manager, and encourage everyone else in the organization to believe in and implement the new way forward.

Author, Petra Deuter,
is founder and owner of PD-Hospitality Consulting and Interim Management,, and is an independent advisor and transition Executive who specializes in the hospitality industry, with a strong track record of growing revenues and managing strategic and operational changes. She is an expert advisor and mentor, with many years’ management experience in Europe and North and South America. Petra can be reached at

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