My 2-I-C has become a problem? What can I do?

Dear Aunty B,


I run a very successful footwear boutique, and have had fantastic staff since opening four years ago. But, over the past 12 months one of my staff has changed. Maybe she has always been like it, but I have been so focused on my passion and dreams for my business I haven’t seen it.


My staff are like family, and we all work as a great team. This particular staff member, I have realised, has become extremely self-centred. This has not affected her selling, but it’s really bugging me what the problem is. Even though we are all upfront with each other and I have asked if there is a problem, her response is “nothing is wrong”. But, my other staff recognised this problem as well. So, it’s all not in my head. She is extremely well looked after, is second in charge, gets a twice-yearly bonus, cost price off any stock, rosters are sometimes worked around her. Maybe I have given too much and, I feel it’s just take, take, take!!!! and that now it’s just a job for her even though I know she has a great deal of respect for myself and the business.


Any suggestions would be grateful.





Sue, Sue.

I am shaking my head here, Sue. You have an issue that afflicts many female entrepreneurs (sorry, sisters). You want to be the employee’s FRIEND.


Now we all want to muck in, feel loved, cherished and part of the gang – remember how good that felt at high school? But, Sue, you run the joint. YOU are the boss.


Now before I tell you what I really think, I have consulted SmartCompany’s resident business psychologist, Eve Ash. Her advice is to go to lunch and get back your friendship

Ask these questions:

  • How are you enjoying the job?
  • What do you not enjoy about the job?
  • What do we need to do to make sure everyone is happy at work?

Then give very specific feedback:

  • When we talk and you ignore me I feel upset and hurt and then troubled and find I can’t concentrate on my job.
  • Or: I notice that you are not making the small talk with the other team members and laughing with them about the little things like you used to, and they, and I are felling worried that you are not happy at work.


Sue, my advice is thus:


Forget the friendship cause she ain’t a friend.


First, make sure that PARTICULAR STAFF MEMBER is not suffering some personal tragedy where an offer of leave (paid or unpaid) would be appropriate.


Then face the truth. That PARTICULAR STAFF MEMBER is involved in some kind of weird passive-aggressive game. Maybe she is bored – or feels too good for the place. Do we care? But acknowledge the affect her negative attitude is really having on you and other staff members.


Mentally prepare yourself: she might already be preparing to leave and could walk out. Take her into the meeting room, shut the door (no tea and bikkies) and HAVE IT OUT.


If the passive-aggressive behavior continues, it could be time to suggest she might be better off in a NEW workplace. Now that is tough. Aunty B is the last person on earth to recommend in a boom economy that you move on someone who has a good sales performance. But we all know in a fast growing business that one bad apple etc. So be tough, sister, and quickly.


Ok, that’s two opinions. Anyone got any more? Send them to [email protected]

And Sue, let us know what happens.


One more thing: Thanks, Nancy, for solving our coffee problem. Readers, if you are traveling in NSW, Nancy assures us we can get a great coffee.


See her response:


I don’t know about Port Macquarie, and “sea changes” are sooo last century! Make a tree change, come to Bingara in NSW north west slopes, and have the best coffee in the region at the Imperial Hotel coffee shop. Now the cool weather is here, Erik and Noelene have lit the coffee shop fire, making it the best place to spend winter




What are you waiting for? Email your questions, problems and issues to [email protected] right now!


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