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Maynard Webb: ‘Always treat everyone nicely on the way out’

Our advice columnist weighs in on how to handle an employee at a crossroads.

Maynard Webb: ‘Always treat everyone nicely on the way out’
[Source photo: punyavee-napalai/iStock]

Editor’s Note: Each week Maynard Webb, former CEO of LiveOps and the former COO of eBay, will offer candid, practical, and sometimes surprising advice to entrepreneurs and founders. To submit a question, write to Webb at dearfounder@fastcompany.com.

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Q. I have a part-time consultant who has been helping me with an important piece of my business. She has been with us for years and has done good work. She also has a full-time job where she has been excelling and is now at the management level. Her mother is ailing and she is about to have a baby. We’re now ready to take this division to a whole new level and I don’t think she’s going to have the time or capability. In fact, I think we’ll need a whole new team to devise a strategy and implement it. How do I handle this?

-Successful founder running many businesses

Dear Founder,

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It sounds as if you are both ready to move forward in different directions, but you want to do the right thing and end this relationship on the right note.

First, thank her for all she has done. Make sure she knows that you will cover her pay during her maternity leave. Then ask her about her desires for the long term. 

Share your new goals and how you are planning to step up to get there. Explain you are looking to take things to a new level and discuss whether she would like to go along given her other commitments and all that she has going on. Paint a clear picture of what is coming and see if she has the interest and free time to commit to the new demands.

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If she is not up for staying and taking on this new role, or if it becomes evident that she is not capable of meeting the new demands of the ramped-up effort, devise a plan to part ways gracefully. Ask for her help in assisting with the transition. Include her in your efforts to find other people for the growing team.

Ensure that she knows how she will be treated on the way out. We recently parted ways with a long-time key employee and agreed to pay her for six months at the end of her time with us. As a rule, always treat everyone nicely on the way out. How you leave things is what everyone will remember.

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