Every business large or small has a distinctive way of operating. For example, decision making can be highly centralised or decentralised. A small business owners’ business will take its style of operations and culture from its owner.

For a variety of reasons, a company’s culture may need to be adapted or changed to face new challenges. This carries with it serious risks and needs to be managed closely. Having decided change is necessary there are a number of actions that can be taken to ensure success is achieved.

Reasons for Change:

  • A small/medium sized business will probably have achieved success because of its owner-manager. Their attitude and way of doing things will have been instrumental in achieving much. Nevertheless, with growth comes more staff, perhaps even the recruitment of professional managers who may have a different set of values. It may be necessary to delegate more, which can strain the existing culture.
  • At the other end of the spectrum a company facing contraction of business due to performance may feel the existing culture is causing a problem and the need to do things differently is a matter of survival.
  • In highly regulated markets, what once was a light-handed approach from regulators may become heavy handed and places significant pressure on the company to operate and organise itself differently.
  • Poor communications and perhaps a combative work environment are both signs that the existing way of operating is not satisfactory and comes back to the way in which the company functions and its style of operations.
  • Markets change from time to time. This may be due to greater competition, new distribution channels (such as the internet), product maturity and other reasons. This will force a review of company culture, requiring the business the business to be more fleet of foot and responsive.
  • As markets and businesses develop, a new strategy may be required and this in turn will raise questions as to the “way we do things around here” need to be developed for a changing world.

What can be done:

  • Describe the values currently, the values that need to be changed and work out a programme of change.
  • Align the culture with the company strategy going forward.
  • Throughout the company make sure there’s a good fit between culture and accountability
  • As an owner be visibly changing the culture for example taking the lead to communicate more widely.
  • Be bold, lead from the front and make staff and clients know that you are fully committed to the change taking place.
  • Take time and keep a measurement of the changes as you go forward

Kenneth Andrew Executive Coach

In my role as a small business coach and through my experience as a small business owner of three companies in the past I have been able to help many companies go through this challenging process. If you’d like to talk, please do not hesitate to contact me on 077104 88282 or email me at kenneth@kennethandrew.co.uk.