Q: MY business is going through significant change at the moment which is being dictated by market conditions. I am worried that my staff are becoming disillusioned by the change. Can you give me any advice?
A: The pace of change in most businesses today is much faster than it was years ago. However, we do need to bear in mind that change has always been part of business.
I can recall my early days in food retailing when retailers served customers over the counter and it was a radical transition to go from that to a self-service model. Sometimes we think change is affecting us more today than it ever did, but the reality is that that is how business operates.
The most important thing with change is that your staff understand fully what is happening and why it is happening. Start by sitting down with the team and explain to them the rationale as to why this change needs to happen.
Paint a picture of what will happen and seek their input on the changes that are about to occur.
You may find it beneficial to be able to show your staff case studies of other businesses which have made similar changes with positive effects.
Alternatively, if it is possible to visit another business in your industry where these changes have been implemented and your staff can see a working model, this is even better.
Your biggest enemy in change is fear, and human nature is that we all ask the question: "How is this going to affect me?" So keep that as your guiding principle and make sure you supply sufficient information to answer this properly.
Finally, you may find it beneficial to take one or two key senior staff members and give them a private briefing of the upcoming change before you meet the full staff group.
This would allow these influential staff to get a fuller comprehension of the change and afford them the opportunity to digest the change that was taking place, so that when others come to them, they will have a full grasp of the situation. Change is not a quick process and you need to be prepared to meet with your staff on several occasions as part of the process.
It is great to see you are making change in your business, as many businesses hesitate too much, which then puts them in a difficult commercial position. Good luck with the move.
Q: I AM 65 and run a small but successful office supply business and am considering retirement but I am undecided. What are your thoughts?
A: Well, as you know, I passed retirement age a decade or so ago, so no doubt my answer is going to be somewhat biased. For me, I love a challenge; I love to meet new people and I generally like to keep myself busy.
From my point of view, it is not so much about retirement; it's more about the balance between work and other interests that you have. Of course, now I spend far more time with my family and grandchildren and enjoy growing my own vegetables, but I also still enjoy getting up every morning to face the challenge of business, politics and being able to contribute to others.
It is great that your business is going well and my advice would be to sit down and think through all those things in life you have always wanted to do.
If you can do these and continue to do a lighter work schedule, then keep going until such time as those priorities change.
Also, involve those around you in the decision. They may well have plans that are not exactly the same as yours.
Whatever you decide, enjoy every minute of it.
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