Are you held hostage by a team member?

Marcus Straub
Marcus Straub

Business owners and managers sometimes feel as though they’re held hostage by one or more team members who play key roles in the business. Owners and managers believe these individuals possess sensitive information and perform vital functions. Letting them go or, in fact, taking any action that might upset them would leave the company in a vulnerable or even desperate position.

The feeling of being held hostage by anyone or anything is an uncomfortable one to say the least. Faced with this reality, business owners and managers commonly believe they’re powerless to change their circumstances and remain at the mercy of the team member and the situation. This is only a belief, however, and beliefs of this type must change to free their operations from toxic team members and experience more happiness and success in the business.

Every company has team members who hold positions that are critical to daily operations. While these individuals might fill important roles, they also could contribute to a negative work environment. They might not fully support the company philosophy, objectives and goals. In fact, they could hinder the progress of the entire organization with their bad attitudes, gossip and dishonesty, to name only a few problems.

It’s typically believed if these team members were to leave or be let go, the business would suffer or couldn’t function effectively. This is being held hostage and need not be the case.

Do you feel held hostage by one or more of your team members? This is often a challenging question to ask yourself and even more challenging to answer truthfully. No one wants to admit they’re at the mercy of another. However, it’s a vital question and answer that could affect the overall success of your business.

If you feel held hostage by one or more team members, an effective option would be to bring in a professional to work with you and the team member or members who need improvement or to be let go. Hiring a coach or consultant who’s objective and well-equipped to help deal with these sensitive situations constitutes a wise investment.

Human beings are commonly held hostage by their own limiting beliefs. A qualified professional can help you, your managers and team members develop empowering beliefs and effective strategies that position the company for continued growth and increased success.

Sometimes, a team member makes positive changes once they become aware what they’re doing isn’t beneficial. This isn’t always the case, though. It’s important to understand there will be instances in which team members remain unwilling or unable to change for the better, even with high-caliber coaching and training.

It must be determined whether or not a given team member constitutes a good fit for the company. In my 14 years as a business coach and consultant, it’s always been a positive choice to set those team members free who have no interest in learning; growing; or aligning with company values, mission and direction.

In these situations, the individuals aren’t happy with their jobs and would likely leave on their own if they didn’t also feel held hostage by their circumstances. These team members are often limited by their own beliefs as to their career options outside their current jobs, their ability to find other jobs they would like and their personal financial needs, to name a few.

The businesses I work with have, without exception, improved their situations by letting go of team members who’re unwilling to learn, change their destructive behaviors and grow with the company. In addition, the team members that were let go typically found greater happiness and success elsewhere.

The bottom line: When business owners, managers and team members believe they’re held hostage by their professional realities, fear is the main force with which to deal. Effective actions that manage and even eliminate fear create a win-win situation for both the business and team member. Whether the team member adjusts and stays or doesn’t change and is removed, a strong decision is made and both the business and team member are free to maximize their potential.