While you are having your morning coffee, just have a look around and say to yourself, “If I wasn’t here for a multitude of reasons who would carry on the business?”
Because, like most of us your financial wealth and financial security for your latter years is tied up within your business. This actually applies to 75% of you reading this note.
Now that you have started with this thought, as depressing as it is, have a look at the management structure that supports your business, and also your long-term colleagues on the shop floor, who have been with you since God was a lad. There will be a trend; there always is.
In most businesses, and ours is no different, there are layers (groups) of when people started with the business, who have all come through together as a common group and who couldn’t contemplate actually working anywhere else.
Roll this premise forward 30 years or so, and you can actually see layers of ages of people through the business.
This is where the kick in the pants is, most of your senior management are the same age, middle management, shop floor managements, supervisors, charge hands etc. are all aged in their groups in descending ages, charge hands being the youngest.
Most of your senior management will retire at the same age, give or take a couple of years. Just let me repeat that, most of your senior management will retire at the same time.
Eleven and 13 years ago respectively, I lost my father and sister, our managing director and sales director within two years of each other. The shock to the business, never mind the family, was nothing less than horrific.
My father’s generation, and his management team have all but gone from the business, my peer group of senior management have all been with the business 30 years plus, two for 40 years plus, and we will all be eligible for retirement in 10 years or so and all within two years of each other.
The clock is ticking!
Of course there is another layer of colleagues nipping at the heels, for us to move over, and we will do, all in good time.
However, my problem is the layer after them: the would-be experienced charge hands or supervisors of my day. We have the juniors, the apprentices and very good they are too.
But it’s the generation gap of 10 or 15 years ago that worries me, before the Eastern bloc countries came a part of Europe and before the recession took a stranglehold. It’s that group of colleagues that we are missing.
The demise of technical colleges, and the invention of NVQs or, before that, YTS, now means there is a new kid on the block in relation to qualifications called ‘improve proficiency qualifications’ - IPQs to you and me.
So now our youngsters can be assessed by non-bakers and awarded a qualification that really doesn’t mean too much, but at least it’s better than nothing, I suppose.
But we have a missing generation. They are lost in office, white collar work, all because the government of the day promised a university degree for all, with dumbed-down qualifications to keep youngsters out of the job market for a while longer. This is a generation that collectively thinks they are too clever, or too good, to actually create worth with their own hands.
However, has the carousel turned once again? I hope so.
I am associated with Reasehealth College, near Chester, which has recently invested millions into their technical food department - and their bakery and meat departments are starting to flourish. It seems some youngsters now want a skill back in their hands.
Let’s hope it’s the start of the technical college comeback in whatever form it is.
What are the answers to all this mumble, if there are any? I can only say more attention to detail on strategic planning for your business wouldn’t go amiss. In relation to management succession, it’s never too late to get some kind of thoughts together, in what you need to do, to get the business or your money into a position to pass on or invest for your latter years.
Tick tock, tick tock, the clock doesn’t stop. Don’t mismanage your family’s asset, or your later livelihood, all because you didn’t think.