Paralyzed by a different kind of Debt


I owe, I owe so off to work I go… but what do we owe an employee? I had a conversation with a business owner who told me that he felt like he couldn’t let go of an employee whose position had outgrown her. “Why?”, I asked. 

“I feel like I owe her something. She’s helped us grow.”


What exactly do we owe them? This imperfect leader has served his team by accommodating special schedules for medical conditions, extended absences, stand up desks, financial loans and just plain “life” events. We want to give more than just a job to our employees. I get it! But here was an owner who felt obligated to keep paying an employee who didn’t want to shift with a growing business. A different seat was made available but this employee chose not to take it.


Somehow in the balance sheet of this owner’s mind a liability (debt) was owed.


Do you ever feel like there is a growing liability due to how you treat your employees? I think this is one of the most funda-“mental” issues for an entrepreneur. Somehow the work put into the business is more valuable than their compensation. Yet, is it? We provide pay, benefits, training, and work experience. These all add value to the employee as evidenced by their increased earning potential. Often we provide opportunites for advancement, PTO, and even bend the rules as “life” happens. We truly do care about the families we support. What about the culture in which they work?


There are lots of toxic environments out there and I doubt you are sucking the life out of an employee like some larger organizations often do.


Compare all of this with the lack of risk and responsibility of being the “owner”. This imperfect leader loved his employees, and many of us have struggled with this same issue and the tough decision it brings. Unfortunately a nagging “mental” balance sheet that says we owe our employees is eerily similar to the real fiscal balance sheet laden with debt. It can restrict and paralyze a business. So what’s the imperfect insight?

  Sometimes it takes a balanced list, not our emotions,

to show us where we really stand.

So take a minute and think about the benefits you truly provide your employees. If you do still feel that you owe them something then make a change today! You don’t want to feel like you owe an employee who no longer fits. This is some of the most expensive debt you can ever take on!