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What can you do when one of your employees hasn't grown with your business?

When starting your business the chances are you will initially take on people who you already know. That maybe a friend or former colleague but you know their skills and experience and can trust them.

When a company is starting out this is great, you are pretty sure they will always go the extra mile and won’t mind that they are dealing with things which actually fall well outside the remit of their role. It is all great fun setting the business up and getting things into place. Hopefully as time goes on your business grows and you start to recruit people who you do not know but who bring new, relevant skills and experiences. The company continues to grow and now you are realising that some of those people you took on in the early days are no longer making such a significant contribution to the business. That new employee has introduced some interesting ideas and is questioning, in a positive way, why you are doing things that way.

Your conundrum is that your first employees have been loyal and supportive but actually their skills no longer match what is needed for the next stage of the business. What do you do? Create a different role, move them sideways, demote them or make the role redundant?

Perhaps it is time to have an honest conversation with that person. Outline your future business plans and discuss where, and perhaps if, they feel they can add value to the business as it changes. Not an easy conversation, but would it be fair to your friend or your other employees not to address the issue? You are paying their salary (and maybe their benefits too). Will the other employees notice that your friend isn’t being productive?

Of course, it is also quite possible that your friend feels that things have changed and they aren’t contributing as much as they did initially. Or perhaps not even enjoying the role as much as they did but their loyalty means they don’t want to let you down.

Difficult conversations can be a challenge, but treat people the way you would like to be treated yourself; be professional and show respect. Also you may well need to follow a wretched process, so don’t go into it without looking at the possible legal implications – seek advice.

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