When You're the New Boss in Town

Picture of Gina Blitstein Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

When You're the New Boss in Town

Taking the reigns of a new-to-you business is an exhilarating experience. Buying an existing business can be a sort of shortcut compared to starting a company from scratch, Because there’s structure and systems already in place, you can get down to business right from the get-go. As part of the business, you may inherit an existing staff with an existing process. While that can be a boon to you as you jump in and get to work, it can also be a stumbling block.

That stumble could occur when dealing with your new employees. When taking on an existing business, it’s important to recognize the value of the employees and their way of doing things. Even though you want to do things your own way and be the, “new broom that sweeps clean,” it’s important to carefully consider the dynamics of the business as it currently operates for these reasons:

A sudden change in workflow could disrupt productivity - For all your good intentions, changing things up all at once is most likely going to throw the proverbial monkey wrench into processes that are already working - at least to some degree. Hasty changes may result in breakdowns that could affect the quality of your company’s services or its ability to provide deliverables on schedule

Employees may be feel that you’re failing to recognize and/or appreciate their value and effectiveness - When one day an employee feels mastery of her job and the next day she’s reassigned or has her position eliminated, she could feel slighted. There’s a reason the employees are working there; they likely feel a sense satisfaction in and loyalty to the company. When you take control, be certain to make it clear that you respect your staff’s contributions and that you will make every effort to see that their skills continue to be recognized and utilized, even if an altered capacity.

Even though you’ll be enthusiastic about doing things your own way, it’s prudent to move carefully while inserting your style into the business’ workflow. Some suggestions for making a smooth transition from the former boss to yourself include:

Analyze existing processes, their purpose and effectiveness - Although the current workflow may baffle you or appear ineffective, take the effort to understand its “whys” and “hows.” If workers are doing something in a fashion you don’t understand and their rationale is simply, “because we’ve always done it this way,” you’ve discovered a place ripe for some deeper examination. This bit of analysis may help you see aspects of running the business you hadn’t previously considered. By stepping back to consider why things are the way they are, you’ll be able to determine a starting point for implementing your own processes.

Familiarize yourself with employees, their abilities and functions - It’s a wise investment of your time to get to know your new staff. Beyond names and titles, however, learn their background with the company and the extent of their education and experience. This will help you manage your employee assets most effectively. It will also demonstrate your interest in their career development in your business, which nurtures employee loyalty.

Determine what works (and what doesn’t) - and why - In many cases, you’ll find it isn’t necessary to “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” It might take a while to see where breakdowns occur or where you could implement improvements. An observational period may be useful to monitor the way things flow. You’ll probably find there are aspects of the existing business’ operation that work just fine; others you can revise to meet your own standards; and still others you’ll want to do away with as soon as possible.

Consider solutions to fix that which doesn’t work - Consult with existing employees for their input on when and where existing practices fall short - and what they would suggest as a fix. Their direct, personal experience will help enlighten you as to where your new procedures can make the biggest impact. Use this input to prioritize and devise your strategies.

Detail and announce changes you intend to make - Employees are bound to be concerned about the future of their employment status when their business has new ownership. They will wonder things like if they will still have a job; if working conditions will change; if their position will remain. Do everything you can to keep them informed of your plans in order to put their minds at ease. Try to provide a big picture view for your employees to help them learn about the company for which they now work. Keeping employees in the loop will also help ensure that they will be on board with the changes and more cooperative in accepting new procedures, expectations and conditions.

Congratulations on your new business! Following these suggestions will help you take the reins in a graceful way that benefits the business, you and your employees. Here’s to much success with you and your new team!

How have you dealt with being the new boss in town?

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