How did this valuable, trusted, employee turn into a dilemma?

“He’s been with us from the beginning. I think he was the fourth employee hired in the company!”

This is how the conversation started with one of my clients who was telling me about his “problem employee.”

“Things started great.”

Joshua came to them through a friend, and when they met him, they could see the “fit.” He was young, energetic, eager to learn, and he had worked in small companies before. They hired him on the spot and got him started as a project manager. 

He was a decent project manager, but then he volunteered to take help out with business development. As he ramped up his networking and outreach, things started to fall through the cracks on his projects, so they moved him full-time into sales. 

While in a sales role, he took on a lot of marketing tasks. The business owner appreciated his initiative because no one was doing anything in marketing. Over time he was putting more time and effort into marketing, and he was dropping the ball on sales! 

Now what do we do?

So now we had an employee who has been a lousy project manager, a mediocre marketer, and a crummy salesperson.

But Joshua had been with them for so long; he knew how to do so many things in the organization. While he wasn’t very good at any of them, having someone with a broad set of skills is valuable as you are growing. 

As your company grows, your needs change

One of the critical transitions that business must make on their road to growth is the shift from valuing employees who “do it all,” who “work hard,” and that we can count on in any circumstance, to valuing employees with a track record of success doing the thing that we need done and who we can count on to do that thing.  My client is in the middle of that transition. 

Joshua is the perfect hard-working, flexible employee. He’s super valuable when a business is in the start-up phase and needs everyone in the company to wear a lot of hats. 

But as the business grows, we need people we can count on. We no longer need hardworking and loyal so much as we need someone who knows how to do one thing well. 

Who’s the “Joshua” in your company? That person who has worn a lot of hats, but none of them fit? How are you accommodating that person now? If you redeploy the money that you are paying “Joshua,” what kind of experienced person could you hire?

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