It’s not the news, it’s how you react!
It doesn’t matter how long you have been running a business or how confident you are, you’re still only a conversation away from a problem. The other day we were sitting quite happily in the Artisan Coffee School reflecting on the fact that we had just about got the main things sorted (though our philosophy is that Artisan will never be finished) and we were personally looking forward to a very big day as Magda was due to give birth to our first child in three days’ time. Then the message came through saying ‘Can we meet’, which was from our longest serving manager and the sense of dread set in. So off we went to meet her and listened to her explain how she was sadly moving out of London and that she was giving her notice (three weeks).
We often think the success of a business revolves around how they react in the harder times, and this is what faced us on that Wednesday afternoon. The news was indeed sad as she was a much loved manager, who was leaving for genuine reasons but nevertheless it gave us a significant problem – Magda was about to pop and we needed a plan.
Our first thought and action was to share the problem, so we went into a meeting with our top team (the three shop managers and our Head of Coffee) and told them about the situation – and this included the manager who was leaving as we wanted to make them all part of the solution. We went into the meeting saying we weren’t going to leave the room until we had at least a plan A, B and C in place and everyone knew what was going to happen and when. We talked around many different scenarios, from internal to external recruitment, handover options, spreading workload and training timings etc. Throughout this meeting, I couldn’t help but nervously keep looking over at Magda who was sitting there like a ticking time bomb, hoping she wasn’t going to go into labour at that moment.
Over the next few hours we collectively made some good decisions about our action plan, in particular what we should do and also what not to do and by the end of it everyone felt better. Over the next two weeks, we executed the plan we came up with and are delighted with the results. As we look back over the last three weeks now with a little baby boy (Nile) sitting next to us, it gives a great sense of pride in our managing team and reassurance that it is now not just the two of us that solve these big problems, but a whole team of us.