Do I let go one bigwig or two juniors?

Dear Aunty B,

After surviving until now, I find that I need to let some staff go. The obvious person to go is paid a lot. He also lacks new skills that the younger staff has and is very reluctant to learn them. He also likes things done the old way, is quite resistant to change and is not a high performer.

However, he is a big part of our company culture, has been with us from the start, loves the business and is a great mentor to the younger staff about our values and culture.

My other option is to put off two juniors that show a lot of promise, do a lot of very necessary grunt work, have good relations with clients and are cheap!

Aunty, what would you do? I am leaning towards letting the juniors go, not because I should, but because I can’t face having to tell ‘the nice fella’! Don’t tell me that he probably won’t mind. He will be devastated, as this has been his life and I doubt he’ll get another job, whereas I know people will pick up the juniors.


Dear Leon,

Poor thing. I have been in that situation myself. But you need to change your thinking. To run a successful business you need to be customer-focussed first and foremost. So you make decision in the best interests of your customers. At the moment you are making staff oriented decisions.

You also need to separate the business decision from your emotions. If the decision makes business sense, you have to make the hard call.

Remember why you set up the business. Remember your budgets, goals and business plan. To achieve those, you need the right people in the right jobs at the right price with the right skills – and with the right attitude to change.

Besides where will your juniors end up? At your competitors of course, aggressively expanding their business while you hang out with ‘the nice fella’.

So stay customer-focussed and remember that your obligations spread further than the one individual to all your staff, your customers, suppliers, stakeholders, your community and your family to build this business.

And make sure that another person in the firm takes over the mentoring role!

Good luck,
Your Aunty B


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