Wednesday, September 2, 2020
The UK Parliament returned to work this week and it can be a circus sometimes (well, often). One of the problems with the Westminster big-top is that the whole operation centres on division. Ok, there was some cross-party consensus in the early days of the Coronavirus pandemic but it quickly descended into the usual verbal combat between government, opposition and other political parties. Media can’t agree on anything either. Healthy debate should be encouraged and I enjoy a friendly disagreement myself, but we spend too much time in conflict these days and the highest authorities in the land must take some responsibility.
There is an undeniable tradition and charm to the way our nation is governed but it thrives on division and we really need examples of cooperation and collectivism as we head into the shorter nights of autumn. When the Speaker of the House of Commons calls a division by announcing ‘clear the lobbies’, he or she does so at centre stage, with theatrical aplomb. It’s almost as though the house has reached a goal to be celebrated—to be divided. Democracy is a great thing but disagreement creates negative energy and we’re all doing too much of it.
I’m tired of the constant need to debate everything. And I’m especially exhausted about the divided opinions with which people are discussing our recovery from this pandemic. I recognise that some folks are more cavalier about a return to normality than others but, with respect, we shouldn’t be disagreeing on the end goal to get back to schools, workplaces and prosperity as soon as possible. We’ve been lucky enough to work in a marketplace that has had to function over the past six months and, trust me, it’s better than the alternative.
In fairness, the government is stuck in between a rock and a hard place. They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. But as individuals and business leaders, we’re not bound by the same duty; we’re not counting on votes and our careers will not be shaped by media reporting. There’s no reason for us to be divided or pessimistic; that’s for other people to worry about. There’s enough work out there for all of us, if only we weren’t so hell-bent on finding cause to disagree or challenge one another. At least agree on the destination even if you insist on quibbling over the route we take to get there.
Disagreement can absolutely be the catalyst to agreement or compromise but the end goal of progress has got to be realised. Take a look at your social media feeds today and I’m not sure there is any real desire to collectively emerge from this pandemic. There should be support in place to uphold those who’ve been irreparably harmed and complete remorse and sympathy for families who’ve lost loved ones, but butting heads about causes, origins, solutions, vaccines, masks, social distancing and everything else in between is not helpful.
In the spirit of recovery, it’s encouraging that, other than a dip in April, we’ve generally returned some positive business results in every other month since the pandemic hit. So we’ve budgeted accordingly. I’ve heard of too much pessimism in the lifting industry and others, and seen hardworking people have their contracts terminated. I’ve also seen projects postponed or cancelled, as decision makers have chosen to disagree on how bad the next year might be versus coming together to plan how to succeed regardless. Have I slept like a baby every night since early March? No. But I’d be sleeping a lot worse had I not tried to be a success in a world that’s trying to make me feel like I’ve got no right to prosper.
We had a managers’ meeting recently, during which senior representatives from all of our regional depots came together to discuss the future. The simple message was that there is plenty of work out there; go and get it. We’re very much open for business. And, within reason, you should be too. Further, you should be dynamic and optimistic. What is the point in debating the impact of a second wave of the virus that might not even come, or disagreeing on strategies that might save a business from financial ruin? What is there really to gain by cutting that cost or losing that member of staff? Instead, where can you invest? Who can you recruit to lead a diversification programme?
As trade media recently reported, we’ve promoted Sean Maslen to sales director. Sean, who joined us early last year, was previously regional sales manager for the southwest. His focus will remain on key end user marketplaces—petrochemical sites, naval facilities, refineries, etc.—but he will cover the whole of the UK, having relocated to Bristol from Pennymoor, near Exeter. Sean won’t be the last person to see his responsibility grow as we negotiate the new world. As I said in the press release that announced Sean’s promotion, we are confident of emerging from the COVID era with a full team of staff and even higher levels of ambition than we went into it with.
Standard, lower capacity lifting equipment is still being consumed, and the hire market remains good. Video conference calls with major infrastructure and construction sites are continuing to create opportunities across the country, and our lifting equipment inspectors are as busy as ever before. A strategy of denial this is not. An act of defiance it is. Of course there will be bumps in the road but when aren’t there? In fact, on the smoothest, fastest moving roads of all do the biggest crashes happen. With our wits about us and our eyes peeled, we can still thrive. We’re lifting equipment companies, damn it, not wedding planners or marquee hirers.
Roll up! Roll up!
Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd