When you are starting a business from scratch, it is relatively easy to set the tone for the new company. As the owner, you can establish ground rules right from the beginning, and you can use those rules to establish a culture and framework that will carry the company forward right from day one. The culture of an organization is essential to its success, so getting it right on this point is crucial.
However, what do you do when the paradigm of an existing business needs to change? To be sure, this is a much more-difficult proposition. Changing the way an existing company works – especially when dealing with employees who have been in place for some time – is a significant challenge.
In many ways, you will want to take the same approach to changing the paradigm of an existing business as you would take when starting a new business. Basically, you need to start over. Of course, that is easier said than done, but it is the only way that the old business will manage to head in a new direction. If you fail to make a clean break from the past, you are always going to be stuck dealing with yesterday’s problems rather than looking for tomorrow’s opportunities.
Human beings are creatures of habit, and that fact cannot be overlooked with regard to this topic. As you work toward changing the culture and patterns of your business, you need to remember that your employees are used to doing things a certain way. That doesn’t mean they can’t do things in a different way going forward, but they are going to have to be given a reason to make a significant change. It is up to you to give them that reason.
A Big Event
If you truly would like to change the direction of an existing business, you need to stage a big event which is going to grab the attention of everyone in the organization all at once. This is not something that can be done subtly, or gradually. Most of the time, it will be necessary to call a meeting which includes everyone on staff from top to bottom. This is a meeting that they will remember, and it is a meeting which will mark the official beginning of a new direction for the business.
In this meeting, it is important to lay down the ground rules and expectations for how the business will operate going forward. This should not be an adversarial meeting – but it should be an authoritative one. In this case, you aren’t asking for opinions or input. Rather, you are laying out a plan for the future, and you are making it clear that you are in charge of that plan. Again, it should be quite obvious to everyone in the room that this change is going to be significant, and it is going to be for the better. There is no turning back from this point.
Communication is Key
Since your employees are going to have to quickly adjust to a new way of life at work, one of the keys to success throughout this process is going to be communication. Making sure there are open lines of communication in order to work through problems will be important, and there should be clear communication channels outlined from the start. When someone has a suggestion or a question, they should know exactly who to talk to in order to get the ball rolling. Efficient communication is a hallmark of a quality organization, and it is going to be crucial if you are going to move properly in your new direction.
It isn’t easy to change directions in business, but it is possible. The key to success when trying to change the paradigm of an existing business is to do so swiftly, confidently, and authoritatively. Change isn’t going to come about by accident, and it certainly isn’t going to come about without confident leadership from the top. Take the reigns of the organization, give your employees the guidance they need to be successful, and look forward to a bright future.