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Tackling transition

PUBLISHED: 09:00 16 March 2014

Trewin Design Architects managing director James Trewin

Trewin Design Architects managing director James Trewin

image copyright © guy harrop www.guyharrop.com info@guyharrop.com

Taking a successful business through a leadership transition is tough. James Trewin, of Trewin Design Architects, explains to KATE WILLIAMS how he executed his plan

Photo by Guy Harrop - info@guyharrop.com 07866 464282

The critical big four

Set Goals: Whatever your agreed plan, having milestones and realistic dates for specific elements of the transition is vital. If necessary they can be adjusted with transparent consultation, which limits the possibility of misunderstanding or loss of direction.

Open Communication: Don’t delay discussions because they are challenging. The process is inevitable for long-term success, so start as early as possible and plan ahead as a team, in a transparent, open and unambiguous manner. Be sensitive to the feelings of those who have been running the business, whilst ensuring you have a clear and objective vision of the best path for the business moving forward.

Honesty: This is no time for hiding your hand; you need your cards on the table. Everyone, including clients and staff knows that the transition is inevitable at some stage, so better to acknowledge it up front, rather than bury your head and risk having to take sudden and potentially disruptive action for the business.

Clear Shared Vision: Whilst you may already have the financial and business goals in place, it is vital to involve all key team members in creating the vision of how the business will evolve culturally, how you want it to be viewed internally and externally and the values by which it will be driven.

How do you take a thriving business partnership, with a successful 40-year track record, through transition to the next generation of leadership and still maintain outstanding client relationships to ensure an equally successful future?

This dilemma was faced by Trewin Design Architects (formerly Trewin Design Partnership) last year. Managing Director James Trewin shares his thoughts on the challenges: “Whilst we knew it was really important to be mindful of the personal impact of relinquishing day-to-day control on those who had successfully built the business, we had to weigh this against finding and embracing the best course for the future success of the business. It was a tightrope and we learned a lot as we went along. There are four things that I think are absolutely critical for anyone facing this situation — open communication, honesty, clear set vision and set goals.”

The last year has been a huge learning curve for all at Trewin and it’s still relatively early stages for the new formation. However, James explains that focusing on the above factors definitely helped them to launch their aspirations and plans for the next chapter in Trewin Design’s history.

“Our new status as a limited company means that we’ve appointed a board of directors and we all feel energised and excited. The South West has a wealth of successful partnerships and family businesses, so this must be a common challenge.

"We’ve appointed a board of directors and we all feel energised and excited"

“Unfortunately, the emotional implications mean that many people leave things far too late. My final piece of advice: don’t delay — look for support, both on practical elements and in a coaching context. It makes life much easier.”

This article was first published in the March issue of Devon Life. To get the magazine delivered every month to your home, subscribe at www.subscriptionsave.co.uk/dev or call 08448484217

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