If you are having trouble working with a team member and recognize it’s time for change don’t make the mistake of so many entrepreneurs: firing by avoidance.
It happens like this… someone is not living up to your expectations and you start to consider what needs to shift. You look over the budget, the tasks, your business and in that time avoid the team member like the plague. After all – you don’t want to tip them off and need some time to think. Pretty soon it’s been weeks or months since you’ve talked and the relationship dies because of neglect. Neither one has closure and the team member eventually moves on because the work has ‘dried up’ or the business seemingly ‘shut down.’
Firing by avoidance is a common problem – not only because it’s hard to end a relationship but because sometimes you’re just not sure what to say! Instead, here are 3 strategies to use when you’re ready for a change.
1. Talk to the team member about what you need. Communication can often be the very first thing to go when you decide a change needs to happen. Instead, reach out and ask the team member what’s going on. Are they sick, have finals, leaving on vacation?
It’s okay if you don’t respond to every email instantly, often you need to ruminate on an email from your team for a few days or a week before making a decision. That’s fine. You may want to send them an acknowledgement that you got the message, however, even if you disagree.
For example, you need your assistant to cover phones and email support from 9am – noon every weekday but your assistant would prefer to work on your newsletter and marketing in the morning then do follow up in the afternoon. The assistant expresses this in an email and you need time to think it over. Send back a reply and let the assistant know you need to review this and some other information but will get back to them.
2. Don’t be afraid to stand up for your business. In an effort not to make any mistakes you often forget that your business will suffer in the meantime. If something is not working out, whether it’s with a contractor, employee or team that you’ve hired, then you need to make changes now, not when it’s convenient to chat. Not when you’re ready to face their disappointment.
Putting the business before your feelings is one of the toughest parts of being an entrepreneur and it can be hard to tell someone that you like that it’s not working out. But don’t just avoid the situation.
3. Focus on what you’d like to change, not who. This tactic does require a bit of avoidance, but only for a day or two. Instead of thinking of your team and their skills instead first decide what tasks you need done. It’s even important to consider the attitude and personalities that you want to work with.
Note: there’s nothing wrong with stating that you want a positive, outgoing person in your company but make sure that your preferences match up with the position. It’s great to have an outgoing sales team but your bookkeeper doesn’t necessarily have to be a social butterfly.
Once you decide the tasks, positions, attitudes and needs your business has, it’s time to assess the team and find out if they’re a match.
And if your current team doesn’t serve the goals you have for the growth of your business, then it’s time to take action and make a change. Avoiding your team member until they get fed up and quit is not a great strategy. Take responsibility and give your business the team it deserves.