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Entrepreneurs Panel

Tony Caldeira
Richard O'Sullivan
Brian Hay
Julie Meyer
Steve Purdham
Debbie Pierce
Jeremy Roberts
David Pollock
Laura Tenison
Jennie Johnson
Michael Oliver
Charlie Mullins

Gimme a go!

Jeremy Roberts

Joined forces with Tim Bacon in 1996 to set up Life Restaurants, which launched the Via Vita restaurant chain. They opened the Living Room on Deansgate in 1999 -the first of a 13-unit chain that their company, Living Ventures, sold in July 2007 for £28 million – and did a deal with The Restaurant Group in 2005 which saw the pair take control of the Est Est Est estate, since rebranded as Blackhouse Grill and Gusto.

Question: 

One of my managers has just left the company and her immediate inferior has been pestering me to promote him to the vacant position. He’s very enthusiastic and competent in his current role but I don’t think he’s really got the necessary experience – so should I recruit externally and risk losing a committed employee or take a chance on an unknown kid?

Answer: 

Good succession planning is at the heart of maintaining continuity in business. Unless your junior manager has been identified and trained accordingly as a manager in waiting, then he is unlikely to be ready to take over.

That said, if you are going to bring someone in there will be some downtime whilst you organise this, so someone will have to steer the ship. A good solution can be to appoint the junior as a temporary manager for a specified period.

This takes the pressure off everyone as no decision has been taken to appoint, but it gives him the chance to show you what he can do without the complete accountability weighing too heavily on him. However, he knows he has to impress and take the responsibility.

If he does, great! If not then you will need to decide whether you can provide the support and training to bring him up to standard or draft in someone else after the trial period.

If he is struggling and he knows it then in reality he will be relieved to step back down to prepare for the future, safe in the knowledge that he has not burnt his bridges.

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