When I took over the running of my late father’s business, I had to start to get to grips with the business he had left.
Initially, the arrangement was temporary but this is not how the situation panned out.
Six years on, I am still in the post and soon to be a 100 per cent owner of the company. A lot of changes have happened during that time, and the business has come a long way.
My father, who ran his business for 24 years before he died, built his team from scratch. The team found unique ways of working with one another and my charmingly chaotic father.
They had systems of work and routines which were safe and unthreatening. In comes 28-year old me, whom most of them knew from the age of four. And coming from an alien banking and finance world, I knew very little about manufacturing.
In an ideal world, I would have walked into Trent Refractories and the already established team would have welcomed me, and shown me the ropes. This did not happen.
Mentors around me said, “you need your own team”. What I needed was loyalty and fast. However, I wasn’t prepared to give up on my father’s team because I knew he wouldn’t want me to.
Ultimately, as time went on, I saw things that needed to change, simple processes for a start. It was impossible to effect change with certain characters.
We hit stone wall after stone wall, but I had to stand my ground. I knew that in order to survive, these things had to happen. Unfortunately, it meant that a couple of strong minded staff left. However, it also paved the way for a new way a working and some fresh blood in the team.
I had battled for a while but once we got a couple of new people into the office, the changes started to happen and I don’t necessarily mean the systems.
Benefits of staff turnover
What was remarkable to see was the positive change in people’s behaviour. By reinforcing these, we could build upon it, instead of allowing people to ‘go native’ as a close friend of mine calls it.
A few years on, and with some more new staff, we have tipped the balance to a point where external people comment on the good vibes they get when they visit. It was something I never thought possible but so desperately wanted.
I believe when a company has been running for a long time with a very low staff turnover it should be highly commended. However, it is important not to allow each other to get stuck in a rut or become comfortable because it means you’ve stopped trying.
Surely it must be boring doing the same thing day in day out. Life is too short to be bored and we spend too long at work not to enjoy it.
Business is like a pond; without fresh water, it will go stagnant or dry up. With fresh water comes new life.
About the author
Katy Moss is the managing director of Trent Refractories – a UK based manufacturer and supplier of bespoke refractory solutions, supplying the UK market and beyond.