Dear Aunty B,
I have been fortunate enough to have a great staff member at my side since day one. She has a small amount of equity and is passionate about the business, which now has four full time staff.
However she is very resistant to change and often blocks terrific suggestions to grow our business. While she was on holiday we changed some things in her area, which she got really angry about when she returned from holidays.
I have just realised that she wants nothing to change, because she loves her job and she doesn’t like the new tasks that she would have to take on. But by refusing to change and adapt she is holding the business back.
What do I do, and what happens to her equity if she leaves?
Ouch. This is common in fast-growing start-ups. Now I would guess you are about two, maybe three years old. And I am not sure whether this is any help, but what you are facing is so common – your key lieutenants are no longer suitable to help you take your company to the next level.
If you were bigger this might be easier to solve, as you could keep the great staff member doing the job she wants while you appoint people over her. But you are far too small to carry a senior player who does not share the same vision for the business.
Have it out. Show her where the business is going and ask her whether she wants to be a part of that or to move on? Explain that if she does, her role must change. Ask her what you can do to retrain her or assist with the transformation? My feeling is you will end up amicably parting.
As for her equity, you may have to buy her out, so be prepared.
One thing though: Don’t delay. Times are tough and you need all hands on deck, rowing in unison.
Your Aunty B.