A few years ago I got a call from a close friend who had an issue he wanted to discuss. Steve had recently taken over his family business and was carrying around a big weight.
On the day we met, Steve confessed, “Loida, I don’t know what to do. Joe has worked for our family for over 30 years, and he isn’t supporting the new business growth plan I’m trying to put in place. He feels that the way things have been done for thirty years is just fine. Honestly, I’m afraid. Joe has so much tribal knowledge in running this business. What will happen if he’s not around? How will I know where the pitfalls are? What will the staff think of me if I let him go after all he has done for us?”
Does this sound familiar? Have you felt torn between the past and the future when it came to a loyal employee? As a business owner how can you support those staff members who have helped build your business, while understanding that some of them may not be the ones to lead you into the future? Many leaders find themselves faced with this difficult challenge. Though there are no easy answers or quick solutions, there is a proven process for making the necessary changes for your company to grow.
First, ask yourself what do you want? Based on your plan, what is the timeline you need to follow in order to make your plan work while avoiding the competition getting there first?
Secondly, what is the worst thing that could happen if you let a tenured employee go? What would that future look like? How can you prepare today? What could be done to have the employee stay, with a place to ‘call their own’ and not feel threatened by all the changes?
Thirdly, can you plan for a team to address the issues you are most concerned about with your current staff? Where are the gaps when it comes to roles and responsibilities? How long would it take you to build the team you need to address the vision of your future? How do you want to be seen as a leader?
Lastly, are you being fair to the rest of your company, your family, the employee and to yourself?
Steve and I partnered to work through each of these challenges. My role was to keep Steve focused on building the future, on making his vision a reality step by step, and to give him the confidence to move forward.
Since that first phone call, Steve’s family business is well on its way to achieving its targeted goals. After 3 years, they have doubled in size, profits are at a record high, and the family ‘brand’ is anchored in the industry as a leader. What happened to Joe? He is happily living in Florida with his wife, visiting his grandchildren, and continuing to offer his “tribal knowledge” as a consultant to help Joe with the logistics of growing even bigger. A win-win for everyone.
If you or someone you know is experiencing this dilemma, please contact Loida at firstname.lastname@example.org to hear how Trilogy has helped others resolve this issue.