Do You Believe You’re Being “Held Hostage?” – Business Times Column #115

by Marcus

Business owners and managers sometimes feel as though they’re being “held hostage” by one or more team members who play key roles in operations. Owners and managers believe these individuals possess sensitive information; perform vital functions; and letting them go or, in fact, taking any action that might upset them would leave the company in a vulnerable or even desperate position.

The feeling of being held hostage by anyone or anything is an uncomfortable one to say the least. In this situation, business owners and managers commonly believe they’re powerless to change their circumstances and therefore remain at the mercy of the team member and the situation. This is only a belief, however, and beliefs of this type must be changed to attain more happiness and success in the business.

Every company has team members who are top producers or hold positions that are critical to daily operations. While these individuals might fill important roles, they also could be contributing to a negative work environment. They might not fully support the company philosophy, objectives and goals. In fact, they could hinder the progress of the entire organization with their bad attitudes, gossip and dishonesty, to name only a few problems.

It’s typically believed if these team members were to leave or be let go, the business would suffer or couldn’t function. This is being held hostage — and need not be the case.

Do you feel held hostage by one or more of your team members? This is often a challenging question to ask yourself and an even more challenging question to answer truthfully. No one wants to admit to feeling at the mercy of another. However, it’s a vital question in that the answer could impact the overall success of your business.

If you feel held hostage by one or more team members, an effective option would be to bring in a professional to work with you and the team member or members who need improvement or to be let go. Hiring a coach or consultant who’s objective and well-equipped to help deal with these sensitive situations constitutes a wise investment in the company as a whole.

Human beings are commonly held hostage by their own limiting beliefs. A qualified professional can help you and your managers develop empowering beliefs and effective strategies that position the company for continued growth and increased success.

Sometimes, a team member is able to make positive changes once they become aware what they’re doing isn’t beneficial. This isn’t always the case, though, and it’s important to understand there will be instances in which team members will be unwilling to change for the better, even with high-caliber coaching and training.

In the end, it must be determined whether or not a given team member constitutes a good fit for the company. In my experience as a professional business coach and consultant, it’s always a positive choice to set those team members free who have no interest in learning and growing or aligning with the company values, mission and direction.

In these situations, the individuals aren’t happy with their jobs and would likely leave on their own if they didn’t also feel held hostage by their circumstances. These team members are often limited by their own beliefs as to their career options outside their current jobs, their ability to find other jobs they would like and their personal financial needs, to name a few.

The businesses I work with have, without exception, improved their situations by letting go of any team member who’s unwilling to learn and grow. In addition, the team members who were let go typically found greater happiness and success elsewhere. These individuals have often communicated to me after the fact their appreciation for all they learned and how much happier they are in their new jobs.

The bottom line is that when business owners, managers and team members believe they’re held hostage by their current professional reality, fear is the main force  with which to deal. When effective actions are taken to manage and even eliminate fear, a win-win situation is created for both the business and team member. Whether the team member adjusts and stays or doesn’t change and is removed, a strong decision is made and both they and the business are free to maximize their potential.


Marcus Straub owns Life is Great! Inc. in Grand Junction. His personalized coaching and consulting services help individuals, business owners, executives and companies build teams, organizations and lives that are filled with happiness and success. He is the winner of the 2011 International Coach of the Year Award, and is also the author of “Is It Fun Being You?.” He is available for free consultations regarding coaching, speaking and trainings. Reach Straub by phone at 208-3150, by e-mail at marcus@lifeisgreatcoaching.com or on the website at www.lifeisgreatcoaching.com.

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This article was written for and published in collaboration with The Business Times newspaper.


Marcus Straub

Author Marcus Straub

Marcus Straub is Founder and CEO of Life Is Great!™ (LIG) Coaching and Consulting, Inc. based in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Serving individuals of all ages and companies of all sizes, in locations across the country and around the world, Marcus specializes in the development of customized programs tailored to meet the unique goals of each individual client. Purposefully created to guide those involved toward unprecedented personal, professional, and organizational growth, Marcus has become well-known for his straightforward approach and systematic techniques.