Don’t let yourself be held hostage by team members

Marcus Straub
Marcus Straub

Every company has team members who hold positions 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 organization with their bad attitudes, gossip and dishonesty.

It’s typically believed if these team members were to leave or be let go, the business could suffer or not function effectively. In effect, they hold the company “hostage.” This need not be the case.

It’s not uncommon for business owners and managers to feel
they’re held hostage by one or more team members who play key roles in their operations. They believe these individuals possess sensitive information and perform vital functions and letting them go or taking any action that might upset them will 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. When faced with this reality, business owners and managers commonly believe they’re powerless to change their circumstances. They’re at the mercy of the team members and the situation.

This is only a belief, however. Beliefs of this type must be changed to free operations from toxic team members and enable business owners and managers to experience more happiness and success.

Do you feel held hostage by one or more of your team members? This is often a challenging question to ask yourself. It’s an even more challenging question to answer truthfully. No one wants to admit to feeling they’re at the mercy of others. The question is vital, though, to the success of your business.

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

People 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 better position the company for increased success and continued growth.

Sometimes, team members change once they’re made aware what they’re doing isn’t beneficial or acceptable. 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.

At some point, it must be determined whether or not a team member constitutes a good fit for the company. In my 16 years as a business coach and consultant, it’s always a positive choice to set those team members free who have no interest in learning; growing; and aligning with company values, missions and directions. They don’t really want to be there anyway.

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

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

When business owners, managers and team members believe they’re held hostage, fear is the main force with which to deal. As effective actions are taken to manage and even eliminate fear, a win-win situation is created for businesses and team members. Whether team members adjust and stay or don’t change and are removed, a strong decision is made and everyone is free to pursue the success and happiness they desire.