Transitioning companies to minimize the impact of change

Culture is a deeply embedded part of any organization. It shows through your employees’ values, ideologies, assumptions, behaviours and attitudes; and is the one thing that is not only critical to success, but hard to shift in the face of change. A shift of any kind takes thought, vision, leadership and consistent action.

During any transition phase for a company, uncertainty and fear of change are top-of-mind for employees and owners alike; especially for those experiencing a significant change for the first time. With uncertainty comes a steadfast adherence to the familiar, and for employees that could mean a vice-like grip on the corporate culture they have adopted over their time with the company.

The team at Toronto’s Mill Street & Co. work to minimize the impact of change on a company and its people by working intimately with key players of all companies in which they invest. They understand the critical importance a company’s culture has on overall success and work diligently to foster, or maintain, an overall culture of trust within each organization they engage.

Culture Trumps Strategy

There are a few known cultural philosophies that ring true for organizations of any size:

1.The “how” matters. Too often executives create a strategy for growth that is at odds with the corporate culture or the “how” the company works. If the strategy conflicts with how the group already believes, behaves or makes decisions, the strategy will fail. Conversely, a culturally-sound team can take a weaker strategy and thrive.

2.It takes dedicated focus. When Mill Street & Co. executives conduct an organizational audit, one of the first questions asked relates to corporate culture. It is always a learning experience for the team to hear what corporate culture means to senior executives versus those at various positions around the organization. It is often at odds and that is telling of a company focused more on strategy than culture. Mill Street & Co. understands the impact that a positive corporate culture can have on the financial health and sustainability of a company and ensures that it is a part of the overall growth strategy.

3.Top-Down Approach: Corporate culture has to start at the highest level. The leadership team has to model the behaviour they want to see and encourage everyone to follow suit in a way that is authentic and meaningful to the business. When that behaviour is adopted and modelled, reward and recognition are sure fire ways to ensure it is embedded into the core of the culture.

4.Understand the ACTUAL Culture. If you think of corporate cultures as an iceberg, the portion out of the water is how the company BELIEVES it operates. The larger portion underneath the surface represents how the company ACTUALLY works. Understanding reality helps understand how best to model the corporate culture you want to see. It cannot be stressed enough how important authenticity is in this process. If you say one thing and model another, you will fail.

5.Keep what works. Mill Street & Co. recognizes that the best part of any successful business is corporate cultures; this is true specifically for smaller businesses where there is a sense of investment at all levels. When a company has a positive culture, the team at Mill Street & Co. help identify a sustainability plan to ensure they retain the successful and compatible elements of the existing culture, while creating growth strategies that are aligned with the company’s culture.

You can’t expect employees to buy-in to a corporate vision that isn’t supported at the highest level. You really need to “walk the walk.” You have to completely believe in your vision, your strategy and your team before others will follow. It starts at the top.

Transitioning companies to minimize the impact of change, and recognizing the critical role corporate culture plays in that transition, is just one area of post-investment strategic involvement where Mill Street & Co. thrives. Looking at business structures to determine how to strengthen financial management, human capital, corporate culture, operations, strategy, development, networking, risk management and reporting and analysis is where Mill Street & Co. brings real value to its shareholders and its operating partners.

About Mill Street & Co.

Mill Street & Co. is a diversified North American management company that owns and operates a diverse group of North American subsidiaries, employing more than 1,000 exceptional people who create real value every day. Mill Street generates sustainable, long-term growth through the intelligent allocation of capital. Our partners rely on us to maximize shareholder value while minimizing dilution. It’s an approach to business management that we are proud to stand behind. An approach that we call SMART Capital®.