En­cour­age your daugh­ter, but don’t pres­sure her to join fam­ily busi­ness

Straight-talk­ing, com­mon sense from the front line of man­age­ment

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Small Business Connect - SIR JOHN TIMPSON Sir John Timpson is chair­man of the high street ser­vices provider, Timpson. Send him an email at askjohn@tele­graph.co.uk

Q

My el­dest is start­ing to ask ques­tions about the fam­ily ac­coun­tancy busi­ness. I don’t want to come on too strong (she’s only 16, so has plenty of time), but it would be nice to at least give her an idea of what her dad does and how she has the op­tion to do the same one day.

A

I to­tally un­der­stand why you’re keen for your daugh­ter to fol­low you into the busi­ness, but be sure that it’s the right move for her: will she en­joy it and has she got the po­ten­tial to be suc­cess­ful?

The way to find out is to sat­isfy her cu­rios­ity by giv­ing her the chance to get in­volved. By all means, talk about the busi­ness at home, but if she wants to find out more, let her spend time in your of­fice dur­ing the school hol­i­days.

Even if that ini­tial ex­pe­ri­ence kin­dles her en­thu­si­asm, en­cour­age her to do lots of other things be­fore join­ing you. James, my son, was only 14 when he started work­ing in our North­wich shop. He loved talk­ing to cus­tomers and was back for more dur­ing ev­ery school hol­i­day, but he didn’t join the busi­ness un­til he was 24, af­ter a gap year, three years at univer­sity, and two work­ing for some­one else.

My two el­dest grand­chil­dren are the lat­est fam­ily mem­bers to work at Timpson. It’s great to see the sixth gen­er­a­tion stand­ing be­hind the counter in one of our shops, wear­ing the com­pany uni­form and get­ting a buzz out of serv­ing cus­tomers.

But with univer­sity to come, it will be some time be­fore they need to de­cide whether to make their ca­reer with the fam­ily firm.

You have the right ap­proach. Give your daugh­ter en­cour­age­ment, but don’t make her feel un­der any pres­sure to join you – there’s no rush.

Q

I read re­cently about some of the wacky ways that lead­er­ship teams and em­ploy­ees bond – think horse rid­ing and live-ac­tion games.

I’m not against spend­ing a few quid to bring the team closer to­gether, but horse rid­ing seems a bit much. That said, I’m loathe to do an­other white­board ses­sion in a stale con­fer­ence room – any ideas?

A

It’s wise to break away from the stan­dard com­pany con­fer­ence; few del­e­gates rel­ish the thought of lis­ten­ing to a pro­ces­sion of se­nior man­agers ex­plain their pet poli­cies by read­ing out the words on their Pow­erPoint pre­sen­ta­tion.

It isn’t sur­pris­ing that bore­dom is re­lieved by buzz­word bingo, with every­one look­ing for­ward to the fi­nal ses­sion, when the awards are handed out and it’s time for a drink.

Our area man­age­ment con­fer­ences fol­lowed that for­mat for years un­til we broke with tra­di­tion and started to hold the meet­ings at my home, with ac­tiv­i­ties in the morn­ing (archery, paint­ball and clay pi­geon shoot­ing) fol­lowed by a bar­be­cue lunch and a short for­mal meet­ing in the af­ter­noon.

As the busi­ness grew, we had to find a big­ger venue, but by then we had dis­cov­ered that the for­mal part of the meet­ing was of lit­tle im­por­tance; most was achieved dur­ing the ac­tiv­i­ties and, later on, in the bar.

Our area man­agers have been mo­tor rac­ing at Oul­ton Park, ab­seil­ing on An­gle­sey, ori­en­teer­ing round the Cheshire coun­try­side, and driv­ing 4x4s off-road in Stafford­shire. Some years, the con­fer­ence has be­come an over­seas ad­ven­ture.

Planned care­fully, an ad­ven­ture trip to Tur­key or Ice­land can give you the wow fac­tor with­out cost­ing a for­tune. A quick Google search will re­veal that there’s no short­age of com­pa­nies sup­ply­ing cor­po­rate fun days that come with a touch of adrenalin, but it’s wise to do a test run your­self first.

An­other tip: main­tain an el­e­ment of sur­prise. Don’t re­veal your plans in ad­vance and keep every­one guess­ing by only re­veal­ing the bare de­tails – the date, meet­ing point, re­quired cloth­ing and whether they need a pass­port.

Af­ter your first suc­cess, the team will want more, but don’t worry, there are plenty of op­tions, from white wa­ter raft­ing to your own ver­sion of Bake Off.

And who knows; you might even be tempted to take them pony trekking.

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