Q: I own five shops, and I will be retiring soon. The shops will pass on to a new owner, but I feel my employees fear the essence of what defines us today will disappear. What can I do to deal with this situation?
A: Your question raises a point very dear to me and with which I have dealt quite a few times over the years, as a coach: the soul and the ego of a company.
The soul of a business very often resides in its founder or head of management. It represents the more mystical side of business, a vision of more distant horizon, a unique value made available to consumers and the community, the society.
On the other hand, the ego of an organisation, as necessary as its soul, comes from management, which is responsible for setting the direction. Ego stems from analysis and is expressed in financial and strategic objectives.
As a coach, I remember coming across the case of a store chain founded by a charismatic leader and then sold to an investment fund. Two people, Patricia and Daniela, were promoted from within the sales staff to middle-management supervisory positions. I am sure that if we had polled the chain’s employees and stakeholders asking them “who is the soul of the company?”, many would have answered “Patricia and Daniela”. The soul of the company resided in these two employees, even after the change in ownership.
Be sure to transmit these differences to your team… and empower them to keep the soul of the company up and running even after your retirement. Before you go, get them to think about what has been working correctly and urge them to keep up with those processes. These could include non-negotiable sales standards, balance card scores for each store, weekly briefings, and so on.
You will also want to reassure them about the fact that those ‘golden standards’ have been passed on to the new management, whom you should talk to if you want your company’s soul to prevail after your retirement.
Hopefully you will be able to pass on your energy, enthusiasm and passion for serving your customers, so your ‘retail soul’ can continue.