How do I say ‘no’ to a director?

A fellow director’s husband has been made redundant and she wants us to find a role for him inside our company. I don’t see that he’s got anything to add and am concerned about how it will appear to other members of staff. How do I dissuade her without jeopardising our working relationship?

A. Sophie Oliver of Coco Ribbon writes:

Every business partnership will encounter difficulties, some larger than others. A good business relationship is based on two simple factors, trust and truth. If you feel that your fellow director’s husband will not be an asset to your company, find a time to sit down with your business partner one to one, preferably outside the office environment, and explain your concerns.

Always have empathy for your partner’s issues, as I am sure she is concerned about her husband and feels she owes it to him to offer him something within your workplace. However, if your business relationship with your partner is strong and she trusts your judgment, she will understand your views and will act accordingly.

Try not to overstate your point too aggressively and listen to her side of the story too. There may be a valid reason why she feels her husband would be an asset to the company, something that you might not have considered.

Also (and this is the hard part because it involves critiquing yourself) think long and hard about the reasons why you feel this man is wrong for the company and make sure you are bringing up these issues with your partner for the right reasons. I am not suggesting for a moment that bringing a family member into a company is a threatening concept to you, but give it some thought, as it could be a reason for your strong reaction and it could also be clouding your judgment.

Finally, don’t leave situations like this unresolved. As simple as it sounds, communication is key to resolving any business issue. Partnerships are about working through situations and about reacting to the downs as well as the ups.


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