Business culture change

Dear Doc

As our firm has grown, so the culture has changed. When we were small and vulnerable everyone used to accept that the costs had to be kept to a minimum. Since getting to the next stage of stable profitability, costs are starting to get out of hand, and my staff doesn’t seem to care.

Why have they changed, and what can I do about it?


“Research in the field of ‘cultural due diligence’ has shown that whether it is a legal firm, an international business or small growing business, it is quite clear that the culture of the firm is a consequence of attitudes coming from the ‘spiritual’ leader of that organisation.” David Harding

This is where the saying that ‘you have to work ON your business’ comes to mind. The fact is that as a business develops and grows, so the job of the CEO changes. You are no longer the technician, but have become the manager or the manager of managers. What you have been doing is delegating without training your managers. The result is that they are doing what they thought you did. They are not doing what you thought they were supposed to do.

This is the time that you must get back to the ‘coal face’ and clearly show and explain to people what they are supposed to do. You have to explain the importance of careful expenditure and the consequences of cost blow-outs.

When things get out of hand, it is the leader that is at fault and the leader that must rectify the situation if the business is to get back on track.

Put systems in place so that everyone knows what they can or cannot do and should or should not do. It is up to you as the leader to set the parameters and guidelines. You worked them out for yourself when you started the business, but you must put them in writing for the next level of people to do the work as the enterprise grows.

Presumably your employees are competent and capable, but it is not fair to give them a position of authority and responsibility without giving them some training. As your business is growing, you need your staff be less reliant on you. Work with your staff, or get a consultant to prepare a written quality manual and put a management ‘succession plan’ in place.