We all have a responsibility for the people around us, the businesses we represent and the communities we are a part of.
2020 has been a time of change for us all. It has certainly been a time of transition for Experience UX and also for me.
I had a business partnership that had prospered for over 12 years as a successful relationship. However, during this period my business partner and I had to assess the situation from all angles.
We both came to the same conclusion that Experience UX needed a change and, after some constructive conversations, we agreed that I would take the business on. Alone.
When you are in a partnership with someone, when it comes to parting ways, it presents all manner of twists and turns to orchestrate. Though we remain friends and confidants, the discussions were stressful, with much at stake, and all the while distracting us both from the day to day business.
It was important going into the negotiation to ensure we kept it simple, quick, and cost-effective.
I was given some great advice, to set guiding principles to utilise throughout the process. These principles, for me, needed to help ensure the best outcome for all parties, especially the business, our team, and our clients.
My guiding principles through this process were:
- keep calm
- end with a win-win,
- remain friends.
On completion, my solicitor said it was the smoothest management buyout he has ever been involved with. Damian and I still take a walk and talk regularly.
For anyone that takes the reigns of a business that has people already in place, the priority should be the team.
For me, it was important to keep the team informed, engaged and give them confidence in the situation, in me, and in their roles. It was a very strange time, particularly for them as there was minimal time between confirming the buyout, informing the team, and Damian (my business partner) stepping aside. Fortunately, we were busy having begun new client relationships in the New Year. I didn’t want to impact the projects so, rather than jumping into changing things, what I did in this transition was to:
- work individually with each employee to review existing goals and create new goals and objectives
- tie together personal and professional life journeys to help shape the short term around the team.
We were all up and running, and then lockdown happened.
Like so many people, I am a parent (a father to four children, aged four to nine). We’ve all had to dig deep as teachers, counsellors, business people and partners/husbands/wives.
During this time, as an employer, I took the decision not to furlough anyone, which was important to me. Whilst challenging, we continue working on some exciting projects and, though the pipeline is about a third of the size we’d typically expect, we continue working as a team and we have adapted quickly to remote methodologies. I am much more confident now than I was even a month ago. I think this represents many businesses in the mid part of 2020.
Entrust Responsibility To Others
Employees are more than that, they represent the heartbeat of the company.
I am keen to help people realise and reach their potential. One of our team members, Jenny Lewis, is a great example having joined us straight from Uni as an office administrator and now is one of our Senior UX Consultants.
As businesses, we have genuine responsibility for others.
What happens with responsibility is that team member, such as Jenny, take the lead. This becomes a positive career influence for other members of the team to follow so they too can learn and develop along a similar path.
Know Your Values & Stick To Them
As we look to lead our businesses and teams beyond the current pandemic, responsibility can mean different things to different people.
For me, it is about leaving a good impression, or at least not leaving a bad perception. That could be from a conversation, from a meeting, from a project, from a career, from parenthood. Not all conversations can be positive. Sometimes you need to have difficult discussions, deliver bad news, but we must do that to leave a good impression on the bigger picture, and the receiving party to be dealt with respect and integrity.
Working on a belief, on a vision, will be challenged many times along the journey so when you receive positive results, having stuck to what you believe in, you can bask in fresh confidence to keep going. Many companies that begin with a niche often adapt their skills to react to the wider conversations and, before they know it, they are just the same as their competitors.
By sticking to a vision, you often need to remain niche, which does not mean you don’t adapt – as the world is changing at an enormous speed – but stay true and you’ll have more chance of building a business you love.
Being Responsible Runs Deep
Being responsible impacts today and it affects the future version of me and my business.
We are all learning as we go along, it helps us define ourselves as people, and helps us develop as resourceful business owners. The decisions we make, the companies we are part of, and the people we work with, all shape who we are and how we progress.
After 13 years in business, I recognise that responsibility – to the clients we work with and the people who are a part of the company. We all adapt over the years. There are spaces we cannot go, organisations we will not work with, and we recognise that corners can’t be cut.
We must be responsible for our own work, our own agenda, the decisions we make, and the change we want to make in the world.
It means a lot to have the opportunity to matter to others.