“A new broom sweeps clean, but an old broom knows every corner” (Anon)

“Break neither the new nor the old broom – they are both essential if the organisation is to grow” (Jonathan Mills)

There are times when a change in leadership is exactly what the organisation needs to stimulate growth, reduce inefficiencies and engender commitment to a renewed focus on organisational objectives. The fresh approach of those that are new on the leadership team enables the organisation to confront that which is not working well, focuses new sets of eyes on problem-solving and introduces different lines of attack to increase market-share and product reach. This newness typically stimulates a boost in energy and focus amongst team members as they are well-aware of the revised measurements that have been put in place. The organisation has been recalibrated for success.

There is one other condition, however, that is necessary for the organisation to be able to travel purposefully on this newly-planned journey – comprehensive engagement with the total staff complement regarding the intended changes. Successful engagement is imperative to deal with any resistance, gain everyone’s ownership of the intended change and refocus all on expected behaviours that are required to deliver on the new strategy. There are three important considerations when engaging with all in the organisation, viz.:

  1. The cultural environment – values drive behaviour. The values (old and new) need to be reinterpreted for the employees and leaders need to model the new expected behaviours. All decisions need to be values-driven, silos need to be dismantled and connections and collaboration between respective teams established. A performance culture needs to be developed – real-time performance indicators should be visual and meaningful. The cultural environment thus established should not break new or old brooms.
  2. The “new brooms” – create opportunity for growth, involvement and idea-sharing. Spend time discovering the giftedness and strengths that the new brooms bring to the organisation and enable the expression of these abilities. Ensure that needed resources are in place and that management styles are enabling to avoid frustration.
  3. The “old brooms” – create opportunity for involvement, enlargement of responsibilities and formulate other potential avenues of contribution. Challenge archaic paradigms that may exist and invite the old brooms to play significant roles as the organisation embarks on this new journey. Tap into their experience and wisdom and upskill them where necessary. Most importantly, demonstrate the value that they bring to the organisation.

In a changing environment, meaningful engagement with all in the organisation is essential to reduce resistance and secure buy-in to the new course of direction. The organisational culture should be designed to incorporate and empower both old and new employees in the way ahead so as not to break down either group.

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