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Keep the Gap

After five years of being jobless, Jeanie desperately needed a job.  Any job to get her started then she would work her way up. This is how she walked in to a dejected Maureen, a real estate business owner who was still coming to terms with an eviction letter by her landlord due to her perennial rent payments and outstanding bills.

For Maureen this communication was the ultimate confirmation she needed to close the business which had been struggling to stay afloat for the past two years. And so she did not know whether to laugh or cry when Jeanie walked through her door to ask for any job.  Though her first instinct was to hurriedly kick Jeanie out for some reason she listened. And by the end of their conversation Maureen had resolved to fight one more time for the business survival.

Three years later the two would celebrate the business growth in their now much bigger and posh office premises surrounded by 10 new employees. As the business progressed so did the friendship between and Maureen and Jeanie grow. So close and dedicated to the business were they that most people thought Jeanie was a co -owner of the business.

What they did not know was that Jeanie had grown to resent Maureen whom she felt short changed and stifled her growth. Right from the on start expressed her passion in the sales department but Maureen insisted that she heads the administration department where she would keep an eye on all company affairs. Whenever she asked for a salary raise her employer   offered the excuse of need to reinvest into the business yet she poached staff from other organizations offering them higher pay packages. Maureen’s spending was also extravagant yet Jeanie had little to show from her end.

Tired of being overlooked Jeanie applied and got a job at a blue chip company in the sales department. Upon informing Maureen she immediately became a sworn enemy accused of betrayal and a lack of gratitude.

Either by design or default, most relationships in Start-ups and small businesses between the employer and the first employee are casual and undefined. As a result they end up in disarray with the employee feeling taken advantage of.

It is therefore important to start off the relationship on a professional footing and to always maintain a gap that does not erode this professional barrier. Do not mix business and friendship.

For the employee before any work engagement insist on a written contract to safeguard you in case of future issues.

For the employer hire someone who adds value to your business so that you don’t treat them like you are doing them a favour. If you need to retain an employee find ways to support their growth and development. You cannot hold an employee ransom because they too have their needs and aspirations.