The news from EvoBus this week that CEO and MD, Jan Aichinger, has left the helm for, as yet undisclosed, pastures new means that Interim MD, Mike Beagrie will be the fifth to hold the position in eleven years with recruiting for a sixth already underway. The number of changes is actually one more than these numbers suggest because the first incumbent of the position, Hans Smits, had two spells in the UK, the second after the rather sudden departure of Oliver Moekesch.
I have no knowledge of why Jan moved, but the majority of the changes have not been sudden or unplanned, and they are not only a phenomena of the UK market. They are the result of a management policy that usually sees EvoBus senior managers change jobs every three years. The advantage of this is that it gives managers the opportunity to build their experience in different markets and disciplines and gives the company a steady supply of rounded senior staff. It also enables someone with particular strengths to be brought in if those attributes are thought to be required at the time, on top of which the whole operation and its direction is thoroughly reappraised through new eyes on a regular basis.
There is a downside too, and not only in the upheaval that manager’s families face as they move around the globe. In an industry where relationships are an important part of the business dynamic, it means that the top man in the operation rarely has a longstanding mutual empathy with senior managers at his main customers who, in turn, may question whether investing the time in developing such a bond is worthwhile given the likelihood of another move within a short timeframe. This need not necessarily matter if the other senior staff within the dealership have those relationships but might be a hindrance to business if they don’t.
I’m not saying a three year rotation is right or wrong and can think of plenty of companies where a management shake up would be a good thing, I just wonder whether the upheaval it creates so regularly is entirely beneficial. Meanwhile, I look forward to meeting the new incumbent at Coventry when he or she is appointed.