Jonathan Fitchew

So the wife has taken an interest in feng shui. I don’t understand the mechanics - something to do with harmonising people with their environment. I can’t say I was a fan. When your furniture has stood in place for years, you’re accustomed to the look and feel of a room. Mixing it up is unsettling.

We’re innately adverse to change - it’s a survival instinct, protecting us from unnecessary risk. So when an employee is in place so long they’re almost part of the furniture, it stands to reason that their loss will breed resistance, regardless of the circumstance.

The higher up the management ladder you go, the greater the sting. You’ll barely notice the loss of a lamp, but tear out the sofa and you’ll know it. For most, the instinct is to replace like-for-like or simply ‘upgrade’ to a newer model, especially if the previous version did the job well. The look and feel of the new tends to have echoes of the old - we go with what we know, what we trust. (They don’t call it brand loyalty for nothing).

Actually, I have to take my hat off to my wife. Shaking up the room isn’t so bad. I’m not saying I can feel the energy “flowing” through the house, but challenging the familiar casts things in a different light. In business, we shouldn’t be afraid to do the same.

Loss of a senior employee doesn’t always have to be a cause for high blood pressure and emergency board meetings. OK, so you’ve got established processes, an embedded structure and a certain way of doing things. But perhaps it’s been that way so long, you’ve stopped seeing it. Loss can be an opportunity - a chance to review your own business feng shui.

Next time you come to recruit a replacement at senior level, take time for a macro assessment. By considering the skillsets and processes within your team, you can map out the gaps that actually need filling. Can these be resolved by a move internally? Can certain responsibilities be collated and condensed?

If the role you’re looking to fill is no longer fit-for-purpose or in line with changes in your business, stepping outside the comfort zone could inject the new energy your team needs to excel. So before jumping to buy another unnecessary piece of furniture, look at the room as a whole. Overcoming our fear of change can dramatically improve business harmony.

Jonathan Fitchew is CEO of Pareto Law