To run a small business well, you need to face and address problems as soon as they appear, but some situations can take us by surprise, especially if we’re inexperienced business owners. This new franchisee is unsure how to approach a business partner – and, awkwardly, family member – who isn’t pulling their weight, and who doesn’t want to talk about it. Expert executive coach Soraya Shaw offers a few ways to tackle the situation…
Soraya answers: “Reading between the lines of your question, there seem to me to be a few factors that stand out, and which may be having an impact on how you’re both running the company.
Working with someone is very different from having a strong friendship. What are the roles in your relationship now? Have they changed? It sounds as though you are the dominant driving force. Do you think that you may be being too directive, and not working to a more shared, collaborative style? If you are, this could be making her withdraw and not feel that her views are being heard or appreciated, which could be at odds with how you are as friends.
It could also be impacting her motivation. The key factors in motivation are Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Does she feel as though she has autonomy in her role? Does she have the skills to complete the tasks that are set for her? What was her reason for buying the franchise with you, and what does she want to achieve from it, in both the short and longer-term? Does it give her a purpose in life, or is it a distraction from other things that she may want to do?
Often people avoid tasks that they don’t feel qualified to do – not that they don’t necessarily have the skills to do. From what you are saying about her turning up late and not focusing on the crucial next steps, does she feel out of her depth? Often when we focus on low priority stuff, as you put it, we are staying in our comfort zone as many people fear taking on work that they may not be sure about or lack the confidence to do. Is this something you need to talk through with her, or does she just need her confidence building?
Lastly, how are you agreeing priorities and responsibilities? Are you establishing some form of accountability and ownership? It may be worth looking at your structure and processes around this, and prioritising more to each other’s skills and experience. Also, how do you define what is a priority? It’s very easy to see everything as urgent, and this can be overwhelming for many people, and distracts from developing a clear strategy around the needs and direction of your business.”
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