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Business Surgery: Elaine Warriner, from Thomas Ridley Foodservice, based at Rougham, offers some tips on coping with major changes to an organisation





I joined Thomas Ridley Foodservice, based in Rougham, two years ago. At this point, it was a family run business, which was a big culture change for me personally; having worked in the corporate world for 30 years.

First established as a fine foods shop on Abbeygate Street in 1808 (now Prezzo), Thomas Ridley is very proud of its history and heritage. Today, we are a large company and deliver wholesale food and drink to schools, hotels, cafes, pubs etc - I’m sure you will have seen our lorries out and about.

Last year, we embarked on a big change journey. After six generations of ownership, the family decided to sell the business; resulting in a staggered change in leadership, products, processes and more. We remain an independent company, with our own culture, people and values - now within the Caterfood Buying Group.

Here are some points to help you if your business is going through a change – big or small.

Cultural. Remember change can be difficult and people are often resistant; especially if they feel it threatens their status quo, job security or comfort. Change can also be perceived as a threat to overall stability, making people hesitant and progress slow. It’s important to be patient and understanding.

Communication. With clear and consistent communication, employees can understand reasons for the change and steps required to move forward. Good communication can help reduce resistance and is key to success.

Courage. This will play a critical role in successful change management and may well be the driving force behind uncertainty, making tough decisions and taking calculated risks - believe in yourself!

Conviction. This will follow when your teams each feel as though the practices, policies and procedures of the company become aligned with new behaviours.

Compassion. Creating a culture that encourages supportive and inclusive environments, is blame free and values the wellbeing of its employees is even more important during a period of change.

Teamwork. It’s essential to work together to achieve a shared goal or outcome in an effective way. Always listen to your team, support others and approach teamwork with a positive attitude.

Thomas Ridley
Thomas Ridley

So, do not be afraid of change. But be sure to plan for it and communicate effectively, every step of the way. Only then will you enjoy change journeys, not just with contented passengers, but, with active and engaged participants.

— Elaine Warriner, People & Culture Manager, Thomas Ridley