Sheryl in Durham writes:
I am having some serious business happenings. It seems one of my employees feels she can do it better by herself and is saving files and getting ready to walk – taking 7 of my accounts with her. Would love any insight or suggestions on what I should do. She is a great worker, but lately not trustworthy.
Your instincts about your employee are correct, so you need to protect yourself. I strongly advise you to contact an attorney, because you and your business will fare much better by using the tools of the law.
Because you are going to have to confront this woman with your suspicions, you need to be legally prepared. While it isn’t going to heal your working relationship, you can legally protect yourself and scare her enough that you won’t lose all 7 of your accounts. It does look like you will eventually lose 2, but there is only 1 who will potentially go with her. An attorney is the only person who can properly advise you and draft a contract that will protect you – or give you recourse – to the espionage that has been taking place.
You have options. Even though she is a great worker, you will be able to fairly and quickly replace her, should you choose to encourage her to leave. The two of you could part ways this October, or you could choose to sweeten her deal. If you want her to stay, and to protect all of your accounts and information, you can always share the burden and keep your “enemy” close, by offering her a vested interest or making her a more equal partner.
If you let her go, she will start a business of her own, using everything she’s learned from you as her business model. She’s driven, ambitious, and eventually will feel like competition… so view competition as motivation to do better. If you keep her and offer her more, she will work even harder.
Whether you reign her in or set her free, you and your business will survive, flourish and thrive. But, seeking legal counsel is definitely the key, and will help you decide which path you should take to victory.