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Business Surgery: Challenge the status quo when you start a new job, says Jon Marlow, managing director of Bury St Edmunds firm Thomas Ridley Foodservice

It was one of the best pieces of advice I was given: When starting a new job, resist falling into the trap of accepting the status quo.

The days of a job for life are long gone. It is said that most of us will have around 12 different jobs in our lifetimes, and around a third of us will change careers completely.

Most of this change will happen voluntarily and is likely to be for more money, a promotion, or simply a different challenge, but in all instances we will want to make a good impression when we arrive at our new place of work.

Jon Marlow, MD of Thomas Ridley Foodservice
Jon Marlow, MD of Thomas Ridley Foodservice

Equally, from an employer’s perspective, when there is a job to fill, the candidates that will stand out will be those that bring something new to the party and will have ideas or experiences that are different from the previous person in the role.

And it is for both those reasons that when you start a new role you should try to retain a ‘consultant’s eye’ for as long as possible, and resist the temptation to accept the status quo.

No doubt you will have come across consultants in a business at some point in the past. The best consultants come into a business and – because everything is new – and because they are unincumbered by established ways of working, they grab the opportunity to critically assess everything they see. They are able to question, without fear or prejudice, how an organisation functions and potentially how it can be improved.

For a new starter in any business, the same should be true. Before you know it you will start to accept the way things are done because ‘that’s the way it’s always been’, so make the most of that small window of opportunity to take a look at your new role, and the wider business, through the lens of a consultant. Ask lots of questions, compare it to previous experiences, ask yourself does it make sense? And also, ask yourself, what you would do if it was your business and your cash?

This is something I am reminding myself daily in my new role as managing director at Thomas Ridley Foodservice. I am privileged to be leading a business that’s around 200 years old – a business that is big, is profitable, and has an amazing set of colleagues – but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t stuff that can’t be changed or things that couldn’t be improved.

Thomas Ridley
Thomas Ridley

Successful businesses are those that always challenge themselves, are able to adapt to meet the needs of a rapidly changing environment – and never accept the status quo.

— Jon Marlow, Managing Director, Thomas Ridley Foodservice