Women In Business

You got this: handling staff who want a partnership

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Dr Froswa’ Booker-Drew answers your questions, putting her years of experience and practice into the goal of solving those knotty problems that beset us, and assuring us: ‘you’ve got this’. If you’d like Froswa’ to look at your particular problem, email it to [email protected].

Question:

I’ve built my business up from nothing over about 15 years, and now have a staff of about 10. At least 3-4 of those are senior technical roles in our field. One of those, who has been with me longest, wants to be made a partner of the business. I don’t have any partners, but at the same time, I would dearly love to be able to have a managing director so I can step away just a little, because as the key person I seem to be running everything. But the business requires quite a bit of entrepreneurial flair, and the person who wants to be a partner just doesn’t have that. It’s not that they’re bad at their job; they’re actually great. But they are not able to come up with the new ideas, spot the marketing opportunities, think of new apps etc. They have stayed with me for a long time because I am very flexible with hours, particularly for those who have children. I don’t want to lose them, but they are just not partner material. How do I handle this? J.

J:

You are an amazing lady and I hope that you are sharing your knowledge with others.  Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy.  One of the things that I find (I’m guilty of it, too) is that there is a lot of institutional knowledge that we have in our heads.  If someone moves into our role, they will have a difficult time unless we are intentional about grooming others.  If you don’t have a succession plan in place, this might be the time to begin investigating doing so.  Your business is your legacy and if you are not ensuring that it continues beyond you, that is problematic, my friend.

The person that you’ve had with you is a gem.  They appear to be loyal and great at their job which is a gift. I think it is important that you are honest with the person so that they are aware of your expectations for the partner role.  Before even moving into that conversation, I hope that you have defined roles and responsibilities for a partner position.  This could be a great time to do an audit of your current positions.  Could you evaluate existing roles to determine future needs and assess the strengths of employees for growth?  Not sure what you HR plan and career path for employees may be but this cry for more responsibility could be an opportunity to do so.

Although they may not be ready to assume a partner role, is there a junior partner opportunity that can be created along with guidance and coaching to help the individual understand what is required to move into the full partner role?  This allows you to set expectations, provide additional responsibilities and involvement.

I wish you success as you continue to build an empire that empowers.  I’d love to know what you decided to do.  Congratulations, J.  You. Got. This.

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