This text is taken and rewritten from FORBES MAGAZINE
New leadership can mean all kinds of changes at an organization, but the hardest one by far to create and sustain is culture change. This is especially true if the organization has been around for decades.
I became CEO of a 70-plus-year-old Montreal manufacturing company Gould Industries in 2015 and in order to scale the company and bring it to the next level I had to bring culture change and transmit my vision to every staff member. This way when everyone has the same vision we can all work along to achieve our goals and be more independent as individuals in the company because everyone is going thru the same direction.
Change is bound to happen, and employees will not always be happy with that. Oftentimes employees are hesitant to change because they have grown accustomed to the current processes and a deviation to this might seem worrisome or even troublesome. It’s crucial in times such as this to be able to demonstrate the vision that you have, and why these changes are being made in order to successfully transition into these new processes.
The strategy I used in order to help the staff feel comfortable with my leadership
I established a narrative of being part of a changing culture, rather than following it. Involving the staff in creating a new path and new way of doing things helps everyone become comfortable with change. People tend to see me being good to people, both expecting hard work and dedication but also giving opportunities for growth and helping others along the way. The tight link to people and kindness is what makes them follow you long-term. Since we’ve made these changes, the company has become young again and we’re attracting a new generation of workers.
The first changes I implemented in regards to company culture
First, I encouraged employee autonomy as well as flexibility. I allow our employees to exercise choice and let go of their 40-hour work weeks. This is not something usual in the manufacturers space. It allows them to be able to control their own schedule and promotes a more pleasant working environment throughout. This way, our employees can manage their own responsibilities. This promotes growth within the company and gives employees an opportunity to grow themselves as well.
Other changes I've implemented since 2015
Then over the following years, I made sure to provide our employee's with the best work environment possible. It started with the adjustement of the salaries to keep up with inflation. We've also put in place health insurance and an Education Family Fund (EFF) to make sure our employees are comfortable and can send their family members to school. We've also transformed the plant by creating the largest mural in Canada and making our manufacture a footprint in Montreal's culture scene. We also make sure, since our plant works 24/7, that every employee gets to bond together with our social / team building activities.
The advices I would give to any entrepreneur who's coming in to lead of an established company
Three key pieces of advice I’d give to another entrepreneur is to have a plan, communicate well with their team to propel this plan into action and to challenge themselves.
Having a plan is another crucial stepping-stone in order to propel the company. A well-developed plan, and goals along the way for how that plan will be achieved, are critical to your success. For example, I encountered some difficulties as the company was growing at an exponential rate. A strong plan and economies of scale allowed me to be capable of keeping up with the growing demand.
None of this plan can be achieved without strong communication throughout the company. Everyone needs to be on the same page and have a proper mindset. A strong team will follow a strong leader, and that leader must have a drive to succeed and a strong vision that is infectious.
Finally, you will encounter challenges at every turn. Perseverance and tenacity are what will drive your company forward. As the CEO of a company, your will is what will inspire and lead your team to the success of your company.