Encourage your daughter, but don’t pressure her to join family business
Straight-talking, common sense from the front line of management
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.
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.
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?
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.