On Management

How to Face the Reluctant Team Member

Couch Potato


We have all been there, done that in our entrepreneurial journeys. We have all faced the reluctant co-founder, reluctant team member, reluctant parent, reluctant employee, and the most common of all, perhaps, the reluctant investor. It is always a dampener for a passionate You, because the entrepreneur is the usually the most optimistic of the lot (albeit the one with lesser tunnel vision) and the most passionate. He is the one who truly believes in bringing people together to achieve the big picture. People not truly realizing the worth is always, yes, a dampener.

But then, you cannot always have people around you agreeing to what you have to say. The up side, it provides perspective to your opinions and with reluctant yet supportive co founders/parents/investors, it often helps in creating something more valuable. Two brains always better than one.

It is perfectly natural for many people to backtrack on their flowery vision and statements once the reality check happens. Not everyone is capable to take huge risks and work towards the high returns that come after a while. And it is perfectly cool that way. The reason corporations run the way they do. However, I’ll share a few tips on how to handle a reluctant team member without being exasperated. So it does not take a toll on your work health and focus. Immortality and Doom often walk hand in hand. So do the good times and the not-so-good ones.


Step In Their Shoes

It is essential for you to understand what they have in mind, what they have to say and the way their thought processes work. Be in their shoes and view the situation from their perspective. Leave aside the problems that might be created if they backtrack. Instead simply have a conversation and hear them out. Ensure that you have an all round understanding of the situation.


Keep Your Cool

Lost tempers and exasperation have helped no discussion till date. Keep in mind that it is strictly business and not personal, unless of course it is otherwise. By keeping things calm and professional between two parties, the talks remain frank and empathetic. Even if the two parties part ways in the end, keeping things cool makes sure there is no bad blood.


Your Side of the Story

The most important part, because it includes your vision. A reluctant team member usually fails to truly grasp the potential of your vision and loses steam during the journey. It is up to you to explain the basics again, why you believe in the organization and how his contribution is essential to its success. Describe the win-win moment of glory, keeping your feet on the ground, keeping your head on sensible shoulders. Put it across, very clearly, why you have a problem with their hesitancy to take the leap.


Your Investments

Yet another important part of the discussion because it includes why you guys started up together in the first place. Describe the world that was, and the foundation on which the team started working together. Remind the other party of the presumed targets, and agreements, and assumptions. Tell them your investments in the agreement that was, and why backtracking is one of the last options they should consider.


The Startup Mindset

This plays an important role too. Many, out there, are not prepared to face the uncertainty of a start-up life. Conversations before joining do not, often, help. It is essential to talk about the same from time to time. When they consider going back to the safe bubble of a job, remind them what brought them here. And try explaining them and nothing really is the ‘safe’ life till you build one.  And that they have a good opportunity at hand already. And how the start-up they are leaving might miss them.


Keeping Your Head On Sensible Shoulders

Stay sensible and explore all options. And kick ass.


love and peace

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