Guest Blog | The Eternal Business Consultancy – Avoiding The Shop Steward

One of the key functions of trustees in an employee owned business is to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries for the employees. They need to hear the employee voice, and so inspire the team to step up and think like business owners.

Crucially, the trustees need to hear the voice of employees on ownership issues – not to act as a shop steward for employees interests.

There are lots of positive steps to take to instil the feeling among employees that they are being heard. But there are also a few pitfalls to avoid.

For example, the trustee body which is seen to be acting only in the interests of the former owner is likely to disincentivise the employees, not inspire them.

It is for this reason that we always recommend the trustees include individuals other than former owners and their associates. Specifically, employee trustees and an independent trustee.

The independent trustee should not be somebody chosen by the former owners, but should be sourced independently. They should also be given training and/or have experience specific to the role of trustees of EOT.

There are many reasons for this, but one relates to their role in supporting the employee trustee.

Most employees have not had any experience of being a trustee before, indeed there will be many who have never actually sat in a meeting. Training and strong guidance from an independent chair is key to ensuring that they communicate with their colleagues in the most positive way.

This means ensuring the employees feel that their voice is heard but, equally, they understand the nature of the contribution the trustees are seeking from them.


For more information about Independent Trustees and help in acquiring their services, head over to the EOAs Independent Trustee Search page here.

The Eternal Business Consultancy provides an Independent Trustee Placement Service in partnership with Boardroom Advisors, you can find out more about this service here.


About Chris Budd – Owner, The Eternal Business Consultancy

Chris Budd founded Ovation Finance Ltd in 2000 and sold it to an Employee Ownership Trust 18 years later.

In addition to The Eternal Business, he is the author of several novels, and The Financial Wellbeing Book (the proceeds of which go to the Penny Brohn UK cancer charity of which Chris is a director.

He also helps front the Financial Wellbeing Podcast as part of his objective to change the way we see money from a means in itself, to an enabler of wellbeing.