Dear Aunty B,
We are a small firm. From day one I have had a fantastic marketing manager who has been like a business partner to me. She is passionate about the business and does everything to a very high quality.
The problem is she won’t change. We recently had a strategy meeting where she proceeded to sit there without saying much and then come up with reasons later on as to why the ideas discussed shouldn’t be implemented. She says it will put too much stress on staff and sacrifice quality. The other key staff back her up.
The other day I got so cross I took her to lunch and in a roundabout way asked her if she wouldn’t like to move on as I really wanted to introduce some changes. But she got so upset I have never dared raise the topic again.
I feel desperate as every day goes by and she keeps blocking initiatives. She is also very close to my family as she is unmarried and the company is her life.
Hmmm. Oh dear. You have to make a very hard decision and you are not going to like it. Your problem is this: Your right hand person who was with you from the start, is holding you back. And as you note, she won’t change.
She is typical of the employee who makes the company their life. And they don’t want things to change. They are focused on having their own needs met. And they are looking out for a few other employees who also don’t want things to change. And why should they? You are a really nice boss, they enjoy their work, they get their salary and they have a social life that revolves around the company.
Basically these employees have bought themselves a job but you carry all the risk. It doesn’t make sense. You know what you need to do to take the business to the next level. But it is in her interests to make sure that nothing changes. Honestly there is nothing you can do for this employee. You have tried to get her to see the big picture. You have explained to her why it is necessary. You have shown her (I assume) how to take the next step.
Now you must take the plunge and move her on. One way to do this, if you can afford it, is to bring in a general manager over the top of her. This might give her the nudge she needs. However I think she may continue to sabotage from the sidelines.
Sorry Sam, but there is no way out. Hire an outplacement company to assist you and move her on. The good thing is you will probably happily give her a great reference which will assist her.
Hopefully she can continue to be a friend and visit work once she gets another job!
Your Aunty B