7 steps from an employee to a business partner

Sometimes, particularly efficient and forward-looking employees break into the leader’s workday routine with a proposal to share their burden for the outcome of the whole business. Such employees possess strategic skills or experience that can improve the existing products or services of an enterprise, and moreover, they feel ready to take a quantum leap in their development, and want to take on the role of a mature business partner, and not just of an ordinary employee. And then, the leader faces a dilemma: to fire such an overweening and brass-necked jumped-up nobody or entrust a separate important business area to this key employee.

Let us take a look at various aspects of this situation:

  1. First of all, it is necessary to question the employee on how they understand the goals, objectives, and scope of the new role; and moreover, why they are so self-confident and consider themselves ready for the new level of responsibility and considers him/herself ready for the new level of responsibility and authorities?
  2. Then, you need to figure out how the company’s development plan would look like with the employee’s participation as a business partner.
  3. Be straightforward in discussing whether the employee has the required experience, skills, knowledge, and competencies, i.e. such important professional and personal qualities which can be beneficial for their new role. An employee should understand that you are open to the idea of partnership, but the opportunity to become a business partner is not the same as mere promotion. If you do not see in them the characteristics that you expect from a potential business partner, be honest to say it.
  4. Do you understand the costs and advantages associated with your employee becoming a partner? Do not over-elaborate while trying to answer this question, as this is pure economics: will their work in this new role bring great revenues and development for your business compared to what you have currently?
  5. Think about the impact this decision will have on all your staff. Probably, among your subordinates, there are a lot of efficient and effective employees who may decide tomorrow as well that their time has come to step forward and present their capabilities and participation in your company’s management. Are you ready for this?
  6. It is very important to communicate to the employee that with the transition to partnership, the existing work and social relations and guarantees will not stay for them the same as they used to be. The whole idea of partnership implies sharing not only profits and revenues, but also losses and relevant expenditures.
  7. If you have made a positive decision regarding the partnership with an employee, you need to think over all aspects of legal implementation of such new relations. Work out a partnership agreement, which will determine the new organisational structure of your enterprise, the division of authorities and scope of responsibility in business, financial settlements with the new business partner, etc.

After defining a clear and transparent procedure for the transition of the employee to the status of a business partner, you can gain a potent competitive edge in your business area thanks to the establishment of an entrepreneurial culture in the organisation, and thanks to stimulating the wish of highly motivated, efficient, and proactive employees to join the ranks of business partners, get involved in the growth and development of your enterprise, and in the increase of your project’s economic efficiency.


This article was first published by The Business Lounge magazine, Issue 2018 #03


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