Our first year as employee trustees

Employee Trustees - Alison Stevens and Lorna Martin

Marking our 1 year anniversary of being an employee owned (EO) company, last month Robert Postlethwaite, our Founder and Managing Director shared some insights on how he felt the last year as an EO company had gone.

This month we offer a different EO perspective and speak with our employee trustees, Lorna Martin and Alison Steven and to find out how they’ve felt this last year has gone and discuss the highs and lows they’ve experienced in their new roles.

When did you join Postlethwaite and what’s your primary role?

Lorna: I joined Postlethwaite in 2022 and I am the Practice Manager.

Alison: I joined Postlethwaite in April 2019 and I am the Finance Manager.

How did you become employee trustees?

Lorna: The wider team discussed who might be in interested in the role and who might be well suited. Both Alison and I volunteered.

Alison: Yes, we had a few team discussions about who would be interested in the role at first and who would be a good fit. As Lorna says we did volunteer, although I did need a bit of encouragement at first!

What has the role of being a trustee involved for you?

Lorna: First of all, we underwent some training to help us gain a better understanding of what being a trustee meant and what the role entails. So far, we have attended 4 trustee meetings, held a couple of employee council meetings and have had to quickly learn which hat we need to wear and when.

Alison: The training course we went on was run by the EOA and was called ‘how to be an effective trustee’, which was invaluable and gave us a really good understanding of what the role entailed.

What have you learnt since being a trustee?

Lorna: For me the key things have been:

  • That you have to detach from your current role and start looking at the bigger picture.
  • Evaluate and decide what items or decisions would come under the trustee’s remit and what would be the board’s decision.
  • To always ask questions.
  • And lastly I have learnt a substantial amount more about the financial accounts and planning side of the business.

Alison: Yes, I would agree about those Lorna mentions and add:

  • The importance of listening and hearing, both, the teams’ points of view and the Director’s
  • As Lorna said asking questions is vital. It helps to build up the bigger picture.
  • And lastly I guess gaining an overview of how a company is run.

Has there been anything that you’ve found challenging?

Lorna: Taking off my practice manager hat mostly. I want to offer to fix things rather than question why it might be happening.

Alison: Remembering that I am representing the employees and their interests and observing the boundaries between my day job and the trustee role has been a challenge for both of us but one that gets easier over time.

What have you enjoyed most about being a trustee?

Alison: For me personally I’ve enjoyed:

  • Working with my fellow trustees
  • Feeling like I have added value to the trustee meetings and
  • Learning about how to run a business and the decisions and responsibilities the Directors face.

Lorna: Yes I agree with those. I ‘ve enjoyed:

  • The support I have had from my fellow trustees.
  • Feeling more like I have a voice in the running of the firm.
  • And learning how the directors choose to run the business.

Do you have any words of wisdom for others about to become employee trustees?

Lorna:

  • Don’t be frightened. There is plenty of support out there and it is not as big as it seems.
  • Try to get training if you don’t feel knowledgeable enough on certain aspects, like company accounts.
  • Give yourself time as it take time to gain confidence in the role
  • And that we can get it slightly wrong sometimes, but learn from it and do better next time.

Alison:

  • Believe in your own ability.
  • Build up your knowledge about the role as much you can, listening to other trustees’ stories was invaluable to me.
  • The role is not as scary as it first seems, not getting overwhelmed at the beginning is really important.
  • And that we all make mistakes, the important thing is to learn from them.

What’s next for you as an employee trustee?

Alison: The first year has flown by and I’m looking forward to working with our independent trustee when he starts!

Robin Hartley, Partner

Contact us to see if employee ownership could work for your company, call us on 02038189420 or email info@postlethwaiteco.com for a no commitment conversation.

Robin Hartley, Partner