Lemon #47. Demoting a loyal friend (1st part)

Lemon #47. Demoting a
friend (1st part)

While reading ‘The hard thing about hard things’ from Ben Horowitz, we learned about how to demote a loyal friend in a startup:

If you need to build a worldwide sales organization, your buddy who did the first few deals is almost certainly not the best choice. As hard as it may be, you need to take a Confucian approach. You must consider first all of the other employees and second your friend. The good of individual must be sacrificed for the good of the whole. 

It’s important to consider two deep emotions your friend will feel: 

  • Embarrassment. All of his friends, relatives, and colleagues know his current position. They know how hard he’s worked and how much he’s sacrificed for the company.How will he possibly explain to them that he will no longer be part of the executive team?
  • Betrayal. Your friend will undoubtedly feel something like this: I’ve been there from the beginning, I’ve worked side by side with you. How could you do this? 

Ironically, the key to an emotional discussion is to take the emotion out of it. You must be very clear in your mind about what you’ve decided and what you want to do. 

If you walk into a demotion discussion with an open decision, you’ll walk out with a mess: a mess of a situation and a mess of a relationship. 

Finally, you must decide the best role for him in your company. The obvious thing is to have him continue under his new boss, but this may not be the best thing for him, his boss, or his career. Your loyal employee will continue to have lots of knowledge about your company, competition, customers, and market that his new boss lacks. 

Ben Horowitz @ The hard thing about hard things.

Jorge Moreno

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