Dear David, Why does my company need to change? We haven’t been doing that badly and now someone new has joined at the top and said that everything we have been doing up to now is wrong and we need to go through a period of transformation to "keep ahead of the curve".
He's moved the office around and installed "hot desks". I am not sure where I am supposed to sit. I used to have a nice corner where I could sit and not be disturbed but, now, if I’m not in by 9.30am, I have to sit in the reception.
We are also being asked to work on new areas of the business and I’m not sure I want to do this extra work, especially as there has been no mention of additional pay to cover this.
On the plus side, we are now getting free teas and coffees (which is good, but I no longer have an excuse to pop down to Costa three times a day). Apart from that, I can’t see any benefit. Do you think I should start looking for a new job or should I try to embrace this?
I went for my annual medical the other day and, as I bent over to be examined, the doctor asked me if I knew that I had some lettuce sticking out of my bottom. "Yes," I replied. "And that’s just the tip of the iceberg." I’m pretty sure that the free coffee and hot desks are just the tip of the iceberg of the changes that have been introduced.
Just standing still is not an option for anyone any more, unless you’re a street entertainer pretending to be a statue of Jedi Master Yoda floating on a stick. And as Yoda would say: "Much to learn you still have." That’s the same for individuals and businesses alike. Your new chief recognises that.
If you continue doing something the same way and you don't change, regardless of how well you are doing now you’ll eventually fall behind your colleagues and competitors.
You could look for a new position in another company but I’m afraid you’ll find that most companies are now following the same route.
Businesses that keep on doing the same thing and don’t change run the risk of closing down. Big names such as HMV, Kodak, Comet and Woolworths have all succumbed to this.
You could look for a new position in another company but I’m afraid you’ll find that most companies are now following the same route. Not all get the transition correct, but those that do at least give themselves a little more breathing space.
Rather than worrying about change, try to embrace it. You may find that just by "hot-desking", you’ll end up working in a slightly different way or picking up different skillsets from listening to other colleagues. Also, if you are being put in the fortunate position of being able to work on new parts of the business, this is a big positive and will make your net worth to the business or a future employer more than it is currently. So embrace it.
Learning new ways of doing what you’ve been doing isn’t a bad thing. As the Yoda street entertainer said to me the other day: "Change?" "A bit harsh," I replied, "as you hardly know me – but a fair comment coming from someone so wise."
Dear David, I work in London EC1 and, like 90% of the men in my company, I wear a beard. I’ve gone through the full spectrum, from the waxed Van Dyck (like the one on the cigar box my dad used to smoke before he died of tongue cancer) to the full lumberjack/jihadist (depending on your perspective).
The thing is that I hate it. It itches like crazy and I’m sick of finding last week’s dinner in it. However, I feel that if I shave it off, no-one will take me seriously and my career will suffer. What should I do?
Let me tell you a story. You will surely be too young to remember this, but there was a brief window, when the 1980s folded into the 1990s, when the male-owned ponytail was considered "a good look".
They were everywhere in medialand, flopping around like fat beached seals. Then came a moment, widely accepted by both social historians and David Beckham to have been 7.25 on the morning of 17 June 1992, when the ponytail’s stock crashed. At 7.24, it imbued the wearer with the charisma of Brad Pitt in Interview with the Vampire and, by 7.26, that of Steven Seagal in Fire Down Below – which is to say, no charisma at all. Like Black Monday, no-one saw it coming and it caught thousands by surprise.
Many of them continued in a state of denial but, while other guys with newly shorn locks shimmied up the career ladder, they looked up from the bottom – metaphorical and literal horses’ arses. I sense a similar moment coming with the beard. I don’t know when and, if I did, I’d be feverishly planning a reboot of Hai Karate aftershave (again, you’ll be too young to remember). But, trust me, the moment is coming and the smart money will be ready.
To paraphrase Karl Marx (who, unknown to many, dumped his own facial shrubbery in anticipation of a similar turning point in 1867), history repeats itself – the first time as tragedy, the second time as a beard. Shave it off. Shave it off now.
Dear David, my company has now introduced "dress down every day" so that we look more like a digital company. Unfortunately, my wardrobe hasn’t made the transition from the 1980s. Having seen your photo in the trade press, you look like a doyen of fashion. What tips can you offer me so that I can make the transformation from Tom Sawyer to Tom Ford?
Thank you. And may I say it’s not just male fashion that I can give counsel on. Mrs E and I have two dogs, Barclay and Mabel, and this time of year can be very messy down the local park. As a consequence, I like to spend a bit of money at our pet shop on the latest clothing accessories for our pooches. I’m in there most Saturdays shopping for the dogs.
Mrs E thinks this is a bit extreme because, when she was growing up, they would just wash the dogs when they became dirty after a walk. This has led to various arguments at home between me and Mrs E over my fondness for doggy fashion. However, that’s a dilemma for another time.
If I were you, I would throw out my entire wardrobe and go to some well-known high street stores online and kit yourself out with some basic staples. (Don’t do it in that order, by the way.) As for colour, as Tom Ford once said to me: "David, choose colours that match your eyes." Which is why most of my wardrobe is red.