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Published Feb 24th, 2014

THE QUESTION

My husband operates a business with 15 employees. For the past decade, I have been encouraging him to have the staff write descriptions of their positions in case of personnel changes. I want the business to be more reliant on systems, rather than on him. I have given him a manual on office policies that I developed for a small business, and an employee handbook. Both could be adapted to his business but he hasn’t done that.

My husband keeps bringing in expensive consultants who promise to make him more money through a reorganization, writing new protocols and position descriptions, and implementing better systems. I run my own business but for the past three months, I have been helping to answer his phones, check clients in and out, and deal with payments.

Because the office is short-staffed my husband has asked the consultant to pitch in, which she is doing at her high hourly rate. Staff members have fixing her mistakes, which makes me question her background. In addition, she conducted a job interview with a potential employee in the open office, and her questioning technique and body language were appalling. She has been here three months but I see little progress – no office manual has appeared and there have been a few crises which could have been averted if key procedures were in place.

I am just sick that it appears that this consultant is going to make more than $30,000 and leave the business no better than it was. Should I stay out of it or what?

THE ANSWER

Billy Anderson, Founder – Made You Think Coaching

What’s really eating at you? Is it the inefficiency of the company, feeling “taken” by a useless consultant, or feeling that your hubby doesn’t respect your advice?

Your peace of mind is at stake, as is your professional respect for your husband, and your financial future. I have a hunch that staying out of this might drive you nuts.

Is there a chance he thinks you’re questioning his abilities? That can upset a lot of spouses and affect his willingness to listen to you. Does he typically allow you to help him in other areas of his life? People have to want to be helped. Does he even see a problem? What challenges does he see in his business right now? Does he even agree with the need for policies and procedures?

Have an honest discussion with him. Explain your concerns in terms of the company’s benefit, thereby removing you and him from the equation. Let him do most of the talking, as it might force him to think it through in more detail than he has before. Don’t accuse him of anything, simply state your opinion. Feel free to say “I’m not here to tell you how to run your business, I just have a few concerns and I’d like to get your thoughts on them.”

You can see the original posting on the Globe & Mail website here.