Sometimes the path that your company is on isn't the right one--and provided you recognize it early and act quickly, change can be a good thing.
Often, the bigger challenge is getting buy-in from your key staff members. Communicating these changes to your team well without making it seem like the company is in danger all comes down to how you deliver the information.
With that in mind, we asked 13 entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) to weigh in on how to tell your team that the company is moving in a new direction. Their best answers are below.
1. Create an invitation.
People don't enjoy being told about a new direction. Want to respect your people? Invite them into the conversation and give them a voice in the new direction. You'll increase loyalty, generate a positive vibe, and create the buy-in for the new direction you're after. Not to mention they will probably add brilliant ideas and thoughts you wouldn't have considered.--Corey Blake, Round Table Companies
2. Encourage questions.
When it comes to sharing a new direction with your team, make sure to actively encourage questions throughout the conversation. It can be jarring for team members to hear about a shift in strategy, and instead of having them voice questions informally later in a way that may spread misinformation, get the questions out early so you can address them head-on. This instills confidence and clarity.--Doreen Bloch, Poshly
3. Innovate constantly.
You should be the type of company that's constantly innovating. With innovation comes change. The more you innovate, the more you'll be willing to change and the more they'll be used to the idea. Get your company started right from the start. Start small and make sure that people know they aren't out of a job due to this new direction.--Murray Newlands, Influence People
4. Break the news to smaller groups.
I think the key is to do it in small groups by department. If people aren't asking questions, the group is probably too big. Make it as small and intimate as possible, so people feel comfortable asking questions. Once they feel comfortable, everyone will be on the same page a lot faster.--Luke Skurman, Niche.com
5. Communicate honestly.
Regardless of the message you need to communicate, honesty is the most important element of company communication. It is absolutely vital that employees trust you and your word.--Sean Marszalek, SDC Nutrition
6. Remind staff that change is the ONLY constant.
My staff makes fun of me from time to time about my emphasis on change because I usually sum it up as, "If you're not changing, you're dead in nature or dismissed in business." If you constantly showcase that change is to be expected, and in fact embraced in order for the company to flourish, then a new direction is hardly surprising.--Beck Bamberger, BAM Communications
7. Don't let blindsiding become an option.
If you're worried about your team's reaction to a pivot, you may need to reassess your culture. Are you valuing your team's input and contributions? Are you regularly involving them in discussions and decisions? If you have an honest and open culture, your employees should never be shocked by the news that you're moving in a new direction.--Heather Schwarz-Lopes, EarlyShares
8. Solicit feedback from your team.
Changing direction is a very serious decision in a company's life. It's not one that should be dictated to the team or come as a surprise. Founders should talk to the team to get their feedback on a potential new direction before embarking on it. This allows the entire team to share the future direction of the company and leads to collaboration instead of dictation.--Brewster Stanislaw, Inside Social
9. Let the numbers do the talking.
The only constant in life is change. The same is true for any business. If a leader decides to move in a new direction, they're doing so based off of trends and other data that can be quantified. Share the data, share the numbers, and the team will come to the same conclusion as leadership.--Avery Fisher, Remedify
10. Be positive.
You should be positive and show your excitement when you share the news. Explain your rationale for the change, and share the plan with a focus on the ways it will improve the company. You should emphasize the positive outlook for the future and explain that any challenges that arise will only make the company and team more resilient. Being transparent will help make the transition successful.--Jason Kulpa, Underground Elephant
11. Practice what you're going to say, but be transparent.
As a partnership, it is vital that we present direction as a unified team and clearly articulate the "why" and "how" of the new direction. We've found that being as transparent as possible is helpful. We script ahead of time which partner will say what and when, to make sure we don't undermine each other or say too much/too little. Practice the presentation to communicate clearly and concisely.--Angela Harless, AcrobatAnt
12. Keep your team involved.
It's much easier to get your team on board when they feel like they're part of the process. Don't wait until they hear it through the rumor mill. Instead, keep them as abreast as possible throughout the process so they feel like part of the solution.--Alexis Wolfer, The Beauty Bean
13. Explain the reasoning behind your decision.
When making big picture changes, it is important to explain why the company is making this decision. You need to trust the team to support the decision--therefore, they deserve to know why it was made. Not everyone will agree with the decision, but explaining the reasoning behind it can also provide a unique opportunity to highlight the new critical components for success with the new direction.--Matt Ames, Escape MSP