Monthly Archives: October 2014

New Challenges

I have just been appointed Finance Director in one of my clients business’.

As their business grows it has become clear that they need my input in a higher level capacity as well as in the operational/ getting things done role that I’ve been carrying out so far.

Management advice from Sir Anthony SeldonRecently I have found an article by Sir Anthony Seldon, the retiring headmaster at Wellington College, about his advice to his successor on taking over his role. While this talks about running a school I think it is actually pretty relevant to taking over a leadership role in any team.

The main points were:

1. Praise and Build
Dont make changes just for the sake of it. First you should look to understand the status quo and the people so that you only change the things that need to be changed!

2. Be your own person
Leadership advice from Sir Anthony Seldon
You need to introduce new ideas rather than impose them, but if the changes are for the good of the organisation rather than your own ego you’ve got a good chance of success.

3. Do your thinking in advance
Once you get started there’s no time to stand back and reflect so you need to understand your own plan for what you want to achieve in place at the outset.

4. Enjoy Yourself
Its far too easy to get bogged down and lost in procedures and office politics.
Don’t let yourself be sidetracked by other peoples’ agendas.

5. Trust your judgement
You will never have the same opportunity again, so don’t end up with regrets that you didn’t do what you wanted to do.

Change… exciting or terrifying?

One of the businesses that I am currently helping sells organic food. It’s products are fantastic, and the business is growing really fast at the moment as lots of new customers discover it.

This is great news and it’s a really exciting business to be involved in.
High Speed Business Growth

However rapid growth is not easy – they have needed to recruit new people, and invest in new machinery to allow them to produce more product more quickly while maintaining their high quality.

When you make some cakes in your own kitchen you know exactly what’s going on (if making cakes is your thing!). When you involve more people in producing the cakes you need to be able to teach them how to make your cakes, so you need to work out what the steps in your process are, and write them down.

This means a lot of new paperwork, and somehow you need to find time to work out what the steps are, which is no mean feat when you also need to keep up with the customer demand! But the investment of time will pay off.

Now that we are looking at the processes and systems in this business we have found lots of things that could be done better.

We can automate various things so that they are not reliant on people making choices. This doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult – for example we put a simple calculation in a spreadsheet to make sure the use by date is always correct.

Also, we have spent time making sure that existing IT systems are being used to do all of the things that they can do – not just labelling packs, but using the information to produce the invoices too. This has speeded the paperwork up and also reduced the number of errors.

These little changes will make it easier to add on more new customers too, because now we understand what needs to be done to make sure things go smoothly.

Hopefully this will keep the excitement of working in a fast growing business, rather than letting terror take over.