My brother, Geof, and I founded Printwaste almost 40 years ago. We are based in Cheltenham where we have two factories employing almost 80 people engaged in the green economy of recycling and resource recoveryWe are a family business and enjoy working together with wives and children. As time ticks on, succession has become a subject that has challenged all our minds.  

But what to do?  

In some ways it is too easy to sell and distribute monies within the family. But what if there is another way by engaging with the next generation more fully? 

Recognising that ownership and leadership were different, those were among the questions that we were considering when, just over three years ago, I made the decision to work with QuoLux™ and enrol on their leadership programme, LEAD™I knew I needed to learn how to lead others to become leaders. Following LEAD™I have completed their strategy programme, GOLD™ and I am now on their innovation programme, GAIN™. Along the way, I have had my learning accredited through the QuoLux™ partnership with the University of Gloucestershire and I am now working towards my MBA (Leading Business). I have just completed a project on succession in family businesses which has helped me tremendously as I researched the subject in depth.  

Thinking back on all the changes that have been made as I have implemented my learning, I can say that I am achieving that main objective, I have helped others, the next generation, advance their leadership roles in the business. A number of the family members have been on LEAD™ too, learning new tools and developing competences, now stepping up to challenges that they had not done before. I have learned better how to coach and more importantly for me, how to delegate. This skill has really helped in supporting the next generation to delegate more, something that none of us find easyThis has gifted us extra benefit as our people are coming forward with ideas to improve and life is less stressful with decisions being made at a far lower level across the company. 

I have gained insights and knowledge, reflected and shared learning. I’m really proud that I’ve been able to share my new knowledge and skills with my brother and that together we have used the techniques that I have learned. These have helped all of us to work through succession issues and avoid disastrous family fall outs!  

Succession is more difficult than I thought; it would be far easier to sell. I have witnessed at first hand the next generation, both family and non-family memberstransition in the succession process. It is a real reward to see that they are motivated both personally and as a team to take the firm to the next level. They all want to do that, and together we all believe we are building the way to make that happen. This is hugely energising! 

Three years ago I knew that I needed to change and I have. More importantly, I am now equipped and able to help others change and grow in confidence as future business leaders and owners. As leaders, they now see more, crucially understanding the impact of their leadership shadow more. They understand the importance of developing culture and working as a team. We now all have an understanding that this is journey that requires planning, that we need to collate and share numbers more, improve our business planning systems and that our sales processes need further structuring. Embracing these, we all accept change more readily and with family members on LEAD™, we are tackling large system changes with gustoTeam Enterprise, in other words employee engagement that LEAD™ Masterclass speaker Professor John Oliver OBE has written about in other blogs, has been inspirational and is hugely important to us. Like many businesses, our resilience was tested by Covid-19 and lock-down but this unwelcome pandemic has brought the team together, engaged the Team Enterprise spirit and we are now planning forward with renewed optimism. 

Finally, on the very first day on LEAD™, I learned that it is fine to have fun in business. What a legacy and gift that would be for the next generation! 

This posting was written by Don Robins Pg Dip, co-founder and Director of Printwaste  

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