As small business owners and managers come up through the ranks, they learn management practices from their managers. However, what worked just five years ago may not work today.

Even large companies hang onto outdated management practices that worked back in the day of key-punched cards, but today, business is digital, whether it’s a small shop downtown or a global enterprise with thousands of employees.

Being efficient and competitive in today’s business environment requires periodic review of your company’s management practices and corporate culture. Just because “that’s how it’s always been done” doesn’t mean that’s the way it should always be done.

Now is the time to discard outmoded management practices designed for a different business environment. Time to revamp the company’s workplace culture and throw out the old practices. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is not how business success is created.

Lead From Behind

Fifty years ago, businesses needed bosses – the leaders who determined everything from the company’s direction to employment regulations.

Today, good ideas can come from anywhere – the factory floor, your favorite vendor, the Internet – the business world is evolving as companies encourage a corporate culture that nurtures leadership among all employees.

Reward innovation from within. Use what you learn from other business leaders. The old ways are no longer productive in a highly-connected, intensely-competitive business environment.

Let your employees show the way. Lead from behind, and encourage your team to innovate.

Don’t Stay the Course

The status quo has always worked, so don’t rock the boat, right? Wrong. It’s a new business day, and if you continue to do things the same way they’ve always been done, the competition will overcome you.

Examples? Medical practices used to keep paper files and send out paper bills to patients. Today, medical practitioners automate much of the office paperwork, not only to increase productivity, but also to conform to new federal regulations. Before smart phones and tablets, it was necessary for employees to be at their desks all day to send and receive messages and process work. Now that they can take their communications and digital tools wherever they go, employees can be freed up to work more flexible hours and conduct business on the go. 

Examine your company’s operating systems to locate pinch points, log jams, and other problems that can be fixed with the creation of a new way to conduct business – a more productive way to conduct business.

Invest in People, Not Technology

Sure, technology increases productivity, but business success is built on the people who contribute their talents and knowledge to that success. Provide the digital tools employees need, but hire the best, too. Hire people with proven experience and a willingness to take risks. These people may make mistakes, but over the long term, they’ll move the company forward. People, not technology, build business success.

Give Employees Decision-Making Power

Forget micromanaging. It’s an outdated, unproductive business practice. Instead, give employees the power to make routine decisions within defined parameters. Empowering employees allows managers to spend time developing the next big thing.

Out with the Old

Many small business owners continue to hold onto dusty, outdated business practices despite a rapidly changing business environment.

  • Instead of the 9-to-5 approach, introduce flextime that accommodates the personal lives of employees.
  • Eliminate performance reviews and measure performance every day.
  • Communicate with all employees. Be clear on what’s to be done and why it’s to be done.
  • Cut down on mindless paperwork. Today, your team has better things to do than complete weekly status reports that no one reads.
  • Create a business culture that doesn’t punish mistakes, but learns from them. Eliminate the blame game and focus on results.
  • Eliminate in-house competition and encourage collaboration among all members of the team.
  • Don’t follow “the rules.” Make the rules!

The list of the old ways of conducting business is long, and in the minds of some business owners, these “rules” are etched in stone. Not true. It’s a new business day, and success requires new ways of conducting your business.

Toss out decades-old business practices and establish an open, engaging, rewarding workplace where employees are valued, management listens, and your bottom line grows.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank. Nevada State Bank is a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC