Last year Great British Bake Off (GBBO) fans were left staggered by the news that the BBC favourite was to move on to pastures new – i.e. the kooky realms of Channel 4.
Speculation of changes have been rife, with many not asking if it will change, but how and why. The announcement of Noel Fielding as a new presenter, and an animated, cheesy promo (complete with baked goods singing ‘We All Stand Together’ by Paul McCartney), didn’t sit well with devoted fans.
As the tent went up, viewers were keyboard ready, hoping to throw out insults like ‘half-baked’, ‘overdone’, ‘burnt out’ and ‘stale’ about the show’s debut in its new home.
However, throughout the series, the majority of critics and viewers alike have agreed; Channel 4 and Love Productions, who make the programme, have achieved the most difficult of all bakery-related metaphors – having their cake and eating it too.
So why is it that people naturally fear change? Despite missing some familiar ingredients, the new show had a lot of potential – fresh faces, new challenges and a considerably larger budget. However, the initial reaction to GBBO moving house was one of shock and rage, with many fans pledging to boycott the show.
At USW Commercial Services, we see this reaction to change regularly. While the majority of our clients aren’t within the baking industry, there is a simple recipe to follow when dealing with change management within any organisation:
Managing loss of talent
When GBBO announced its move to Channel 4, presenters Mel and Sue quickly stated that they ‘won’t be going with the dough’ and will remain at BBC.
Judge Mary Berry declared that she will not follow the show to Channel 4 out of ‘loyalty’ to the BBC. Only Paul Hollywood, the shows other judge, stayed as it changed channels.
The Bake Off scenario will resonate with many business owners who are fearful of losing key talent they regard as critical to their business.
If you are about to make a big organisational change, it’s inevitable that some people won’t be on board and will jump ship. The best advice here is to not view it as a loss, but see it as an opportunity.
While GBBO lost 75% of its leading talent, they had the opportunity to mould new stars and give the show fresh new look – and it has been a success, with new presenters Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig, and new judge Prue Leith, all receiving positive reviews.
When announcing a big change, prepare for the rumour mill to go into overdrive. Remember when we were told Jamie Oliver would be the next GBBO judge? Or that Clare Balding and Davina McCall would be the next Mel and Sue?
The key here is planning and communication. At this time, your employees will be hungrier than ever for information and answers.
First, give employees an opportunity to give you input. Maintain your visibility and make it clear that you are an accessible boss. More importantly, be a careful listener.
Second, keep employees updated on a regular basis. Just letting your employees know that you have no new information is meaningful information to them. Strive to be specific; clear up rumours and misinformation that clutter the communication channels.
Don’t bow down to pressure
What has made GBBO so refreshing this year is that while they’ve kept key elements that we know and love, they’ve put their own spin on it and managed to make it completely different at the same time.
As you introduce a change, it is important that you see the change through to completion. Abandoning it halfway through the change process accomplishes two negative impacts. First, it destroys your credibility. Second, it tells every employee that if you take the stance of a dinosaur, the change will pass by, even if you lose your job and become extinct in the process. However, remain flexible, because you will have to adapt to situations to successfully implement the changes.