I’ve heard many business owners tell me they’ve decided they want to move their company in a different direction. This is often right before the owner makes a grand announcement to everyone in their company.
After the announcement the business owner expects great things to happen. Everyone will get on board with the new direction and the company will get infinitely better overnight.
Have you ever had this happen when you’ve been an employee or made an announcement like this? If so, you’ve likely seen nothing happen.
The reason is quite simple….Your employees don’t listen to what you say, they watch what you do.
If you want to lead your company in a new direction, or for that matter any direction you must lead by example. If you decide you want to improve customer service, then ask yourself what specific actions and changes have I made in the way I work with our customers? Have a changed my language 100% of the time about how I speak about our customers? Have I made any physical changes in how customers are treated in our company?
Your employees will be skeptical of any new direction you decide to move your company. They’ve heard it before, if not from you then from other places they’ve worked. Most of the time they’ve learned that when the boss comes up with a new direction, the best thing to do is just wait it out and the idea will pass.
I think it’s important to continually ask yourself what is the best way for our company to hit our goals and follow our mission. The challenge comes when your answer requires a cultural or behavioral change in your company.
Your company has a certain amount of DNA. Changing this DNA is very difficult. Often your first several tries will not be successful, but if you continue and are consistent in the changes you want to make eventually your company will start to turn towards the direction you think is important. It’ll take time, often years for this to happen, and the larger your company, the longer the cultural change will take.
Remember, your employees aren’t the only ones watching. Cultural change includes others besides employees. It includes vendors, suppliers, customers, and your community. Your company has a reputation. It got that reputation for acting in a certain manner. If you want your reputation to change then it’ll only change because of the example you set.
Cultural change always comes from the leaders of a company. If the leaders are consistent in their message and actions then change will set in. If not, then it’ll just be business as usual. The choice is yours.