My key employee is not growing with the company. Help!

Hi Aunty B,

We are a dynamic, innovative services company that is growing very fast. But one of the key people in our operation is not keeping up.

Two years ago she was a star, doing her core job very well. And as the company has grown, her role has grown too.

However while she has remained good at her core job and is a nice member of staff, she has not been able to expand her role to help take the company in a new direction. She is paid extremely well as the expectation was that she would take up a greater leadership position, but other staff are actually doing the bits she isn’t.

What should I do?


Tracey D,
Semaphore, Adelaide.



Dear Tracey,

I can tell you what you are doing. You are delaying making a very difficult decision.

You have already made a key mistake by giving her a high salary instead of starting her on a lower salary with KPIs and incentives.

Now you are left with difficult choices.

I am assuming you have sat down with her a number of times and explained the vision for the company and her role going forward. This would have included providing her with a very clear job description with targets that must be met. You must now follow her up weekly, checking that she understands her expanded role and all the boxes are being ticked. (Keep detailed notes of the meetings.)

Set a deadline. Unless she has shown substantial improvement, it is time for decisions. You could restructure and ask her to reapply for a new position at the market rate that suits her core role. Or simply move her on.

Entrepreneurs tell us that moving staff on is one of the most difficult decisions they have to make.

Unfortunately it is made harder when it is a key staff member who, while doing a good job, is not capable of taking the company to the next stage. But remember Tracey, your key staff member may well be feeling out of their depth and in the long term, be relieved to move on to a job that better reflects and highlights their talents.

You are also providing someone new with a great leadership opportunity.

Good luck,

Your Aunty B.

Aunty B - Your problems answered by SmartCompany's business bitch
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