Some Owners Cannot Let Go

A few months ago I met with a healthcare organization, including the principal owners and the COO. One of the owners said something like this:

We are looking to re-brand our company that we purchased two years ago. We’ve hired our new COO who is taking over the operations while overseeing all the changes we need. Ideally we would like to step away and let the company run itself under this new leadership and we are confidant that we’ve found the right person. We will not be involved in the day to day operations any longer.

Sound good, right! The problem is that the owners never stepped away.  They are still actively involved in the day-to-day operations over 6 months later. Four days a week in the office for 6-8 hours, daily meetings, and minute-by-minute updates on what each staffer is doing at any given time.  Additionally, the turnover rate is now very high.

So, what is the right way to do this? Below are some guidelines for introducing change to your organization. This isn’t everything, but it’s a good start for a small company with 20-30 employees.

Fundamental Principles of Change Management

  1. Unified Messaging (Leadership and Communications)
  2. Lay of the Land (Assessing the company)
  3. Culture Shock (Addressing company culture)
  4. Policy Change (Change is coming…prepare yourself)
  5. Listening (All levels of your team need to feel heard)
  6. Implementing Change Management Strategy (The Goal)

Example:  The COO and Leadership hired a new manager for a department that was in desperate need of leadership. The new manager started and was given a directive to prioritize A-Z and organize the department. The problem is that he was taking direction from the COO, Ownership, and other department heads. He was fired after two months.

What we are lacking here is organizational structure and trust. The dynamic here is words over action; clearly the most influential person in the company is not ready to let go, and thereby undermines the team he built. What is the problem here?

  • Lack of Clear Direction
  • Multiple Voices
  • No Structure

Change Management can only occur within an Organizational Structure. In working with the owner I asked him if he was having a hard time letting go He said that he doesn’t trust anyone and needs constant reassurance; that he needs to make sure they are getting to the right destination…the goal!

In my next Post I will identify how I define change management and what the stages look like.


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