Bako Sweet | August 2020

Change Happens


"The only constant is change." I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve said or heard that in my 33 years of working in produce. I think it’s applicable to many, if not all, areas of life. And, as we all know, technology has brought changes to our lives more rapidly. Heck, I remember thinking my new iPhone 6 was pretty cool—now, my family tells me to get rid of this relic and upgrade. 

But it still works, and I paid a small fortune for this little thing that fits in my pocket! It sure is good for Apple and my 401K though.

So, where am I going with all this? Change happens, whether we like it or not.

The last couple of years in the produce business have brought about some massive changes, certainly with technology, but also with companies’ ownership. Many produce businesses have been family-owned and operated for years. Many of the folks who have been at the helms of these businesses are retiring or dying. That—combined with the fact this business is becoming bigger, more expensive, more complex, capital intensive, and, in some peoples’ opinions, less fun—is driving merger and acquisition (M&A) activity like never before. 

Now, many from the younger generations don’t want to be in the produce business. They’d rather take their chips off the table and pursue their own dreams, and I can’t say that I blame them…sometimes. If my heart wasn’t in it, I can’t imagine how much more challenging this business would be every day, especially if I knew that there was a potentially lucrative exit for me.

But, what about the rest of us “worker bees” who enjoy our jobs (most of the time) and the companies where we have dedicated years, even decades? What do we do when our employer is selling—or has sold?

As executive search consultants, aka recruiters, we find ourselves talking with candidates all the time about these types of seismic shifts within their employment. And, contrary to what you might assume from a company that benefits from matching candidates and employers, more often than not, I suggest NOT making a decision to leave too quickly. 

When faced with a significant change at your place of employment, here are a number of steps you can take:

1. Go with the flow. Be open to change.

2. Listen, pay attention, seek first to understand.

3. Prepare a great resume—you should have one anyway. Even if you don’t use it now, it’s wise to be prepared.

4. Look for opportunities because, most likely, there will be others around you who “jump ship” quickly and create opportunities for those who stick around.

5. Manage your perspective. In big shifts, such as M&A and/or new leadership, there will be change.You have the power to decide if that change, in and of itself, is not bad and that you may actually like the new company and culture. You may even have opportunities for growth and advancement.

6. Be a force of support and positivity within the new environment or, at the very least, be quiet instead of negative.

7. Ready. Aim. Shoot. In that order. Don’t move too fast in any big directions—take it slow and see how this all plays out.

8. Quit the “old” company in your head, and join the “new” company the next day. If you really did quit, you’d have to learn a whole new company, culture, politics, etc. all over again anyway. 

9. Focus on your own improvement and growth. Short-term, this whole new situation may be a bit confusing or frustrating, but it could be the best opportunity for learning that you’ve had in your career to date.

10. Plan your work and work your plan, regardless if you stay or go. A plan will require a target, objectives, mission, criteria, and more, and you should always have one.

Change may be good or bad or neither. Sometimes it’s just different. Control what you can, starting with your perspective and then your actions. Look beyond what is right in front of you to try and see what may be ahead, and how that could fit your future to benefit you.

We do have choices, and our number-one choice is our response. Our perspectives and actions toward—or away from—changes are something we can control. Think opportunistically and positively, and enjoy the journey!

 

Rex Lawrence, Founder and President of Joe ProduceRex Lawrence, Founder and President of Joe Produce, was born & raised in Salinas, CA. His 28 years in the produce industry includes positions in senior sales, marketing & management for some of the industry’s leaders. Rex and his team truly understand that finding the perfect “fit” is about more than matching a skill set with specific job requirements.