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Firing a freelancer... am I right to do this?

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shackrack

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Jul 27, 2019
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Hello

I own and run an online service that offers digital artwork, graphics etc. It's a business I started in 2013 as a hobby and it has grown into my full time job.

About a year ago, one of my customers started chatting and became very interested in the business. She was keen to write some blog posts and do some general stuff, like answer a few customer service emails. I decided to allow her to do this and she wanted to do so unpaid. Over time, I started to pay her small amounts, but she wanted it all off record due to her being a single mom and I was happy to just do so.

In the last 6 months, I've been playing around with new ideas, bouncing stuff around and making some changes to features on the site. She was strongly opposed to some, and others she loved. Not that these were her right to be involved with, but she started wanting to have long chats about the ideas. From the start I felt this wasn't really her business, but I allowed these chats when I should have said from the start, you're role is just to help out as we agreed, but she feels now she is part of the business, feels ver involved and is frankly starting to become quite frustrating as these chats, her ideas and our disagreements are slowing down progress, making me question my own decisions even though I know i am right and also making me realise I really miss working on my own. She has also hinted at a 'pay rise' and going official.

I should have not let things get this far, but I have and now I am faced with a decision.... do I lay down the law, get her to work on just waht I want and pay her more, or 'fire' her? To be honest, I want the freedom of working alone again but I worry that A. she may become disruptive as she is in contact with my suppliers and some customers and B. I actually feel quite guilty about it because she is so committed and loves the business.

I guess mostly I want to work alone again, make all my own decisions and remove the distraction, but I'm keen to hear other people's input and suggestions/ own points of view on this.

Thanks everyone.
 

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Patrick Jones

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Sounds like you have a good grasp on the situation.

I'd fire her silently. Make her wait longer for chats, ask for her opinion less, etc. Drive it to the point where she gives up on it but doesn't feel vengeful for being fired.

If you feel guilty, put a number on that guilt and pay it to her over time.
 

Kevin88660

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Hello

I own and run an online service that offers digital artwork, graphics etc. It's a business I started in 2013 as a hobby and it has grown into my full time job.

About a year ago, one of my customers started chatting and became very interested in the business. She was keen to write some blog posts and do some general stuff, like answer a few customer service emails. I decided to allow her to do this and she wanted to do so unpaid. Over time, I started to pay her small amounts, but she wanted it all off record due to her being a single mom and I was happy to just do so.

In the last 6 months, I've been playing around with new ideas, bouncing stuff around and making some changes to features on the site. She was strongly opposed to some, and others she loved. Not that these were her right to be involved with, but she started wanting to have long chats about the ideas. From the start I felt this wasn't really her business, but I allowed these chats when I should have said from the start, you're role is just to help out as we agreed, but she feels now she is part of the business, feels ver involved and is frankly starting to become quite frustrating as these chats, her ideas and our disagreements are slowing down progress, making me question my own decisions even though I know i am right and also making me realise I really miss working on my own. She has also hinted at a 'pay rise' and going official.

I should have not let things get this far, but I have and now I am faced with a decision.... do I lay down the law, get her to work on just waht I want and pay her more, or 'fire' her? To be honest, I want the freedom of working alone again but I worry that A. she may become disruptive as she is in contact with my suppliers and some customers and B. I actually feel quite guilty about it because she is so committed and loves the business.

I guess mostly I want to work alone again, make all my own decisions and remove the distraction, but I'm keen to hear other people's input and suggestions/ own points of view on this.

Thanks everyone.
As you mentioned you are open to suggestions but not debating and arguing none stop, I think the problem doesn't lie with her. It is the issue of your organization culture and structure.

Ultimately it must be clear that there is only one final decision maker in the organization. We are free and open to discussion, debate and opposing idea but once you as the owner has made the decision, everyone stops their own opinion and supports you final decision. This does not matter if she is an employee, or a minority share holder or just a “friendly helper”.

Eventually if you have formal employee and other partner it will be a problem again. So I think it is better to set it correctly and you discussion this with her.
 

Kevin88660

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Of course I would advise you being nice and friendly with her. Just firing her because you do not know how to manage a staff is not fair to anyone. Unless she cannot accept that you are the final decision maker, I do not see why you should let her go.

From your post I think she has been an asset for you because of the value she brings in contrast for the small amount of money she asks for. I guess you will continue to appreciate her once this problem is resolved. Just tell her that you appreciate her feedback and other opinions. But to run the business efficiently there must only be one person who make the final decision and the person is you. So once the final decision is made you expect her to support it regardless of her original opinion or position on this. I guess that no doubt she will feel a little disappointed but she will see the logic and accept it.
 

Patrick Jones

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Hi Patrick. Curious what you mean here.. as in offer to pay her out of the business? Like, 'here is $1000, thanks for your time"?
As you are concerned about her taking revenge, I wouldn't send any clear signal of ending things. Not with directly firing her nor by paying her out.

It's your business and yours alone. She decided to hook on to it and put energy into it and that is absolutely her decision and hers alone. That doesn't oblige you to do anything.

That being said, if you feel like she would deserve a monetary "thank you", then think of an amount, divide it by six and pay it to her over the next couple of months. In what shape and under what label whatsoever.
 

Jon L

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These kinds of conversations are best done immediately, as soon as the problem becomes apparent. In this case, that was months ago.

"Ms X, I really appreciate the time you're putting into this. I want to be clear, though, about my intentions. I'm not looking for a partner in this and don't want to run big issues about my business past you. I'd like to limit our discussions to ___. I really enjoy talking with you about that stuff, and value your input."

Since you've missed the ball (a learning experience), I like some of the ideas above. You can start with her by just telling her what your decisions about something are, if she asks.

Her: 'I was thinking about ___...I think you should do ___.'
you: 'Yeah, i thought about that. I decided to do ___ though and have started implementing it.'
Her: 'I really think that's a mistake.'
you: 'well if it is, that will become clear over time, and I can readjust then. I've decided to do this though because I believe its in the best long term interest of my business.'
you: 'what do you think about ___' (some thing that you'd still like to have her thinking about and working on)

Don't leave any wiggle room in areas you decide on. Don't explain it other than to say its in the best interest of the business. (which is really a non-answer).

If it really comes down to it, you might need to part ways. its best if she sees that coming. You'll need to set it up a few weeks prior (and after some conversations like the above) where you say, 'I'd like to limit our discussions to ___. I'm taking the business in a bit of a different direction what what it seems you would prefer. Its my business, and I've ended up stressing out over our discussions rather than finding them helpful.'

If she continues to bring stuff up. "I appreciate your concern, but I don't want to talk about this part of the business with you.

If she still continues, "I appreciate all you've done. I've decided to part ways with you, however. ..."
 

Dan_Cardone

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Im going to disgree with some of the others here and tell you to fire her.

Shes costing you money in both time and frustration. You will need to lay down the law but, judgung from my past experiance, she is unlikely to just roll over and be obedient.

Fire her and learn from this. Be respectful but take back control of your ship.
 

Jon L

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Im going to disgree with some of the others here and tell you to fire her.

Shes costing you money in both time and frustration. You will need to lay down the law but, judgung from my past experiance, she is unlikely to just roll over and be obedient.

Fire her and learn from this. Be respectful but take back control of your ship.
I agree with you ... the problem is the OP's feeling that she might make trouble. Especially if the 'firing' is the first time she had any real idea that there was a problem.
 

Rabby

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I would make a quick, clean break as nicely as possible. "Sorry Karen, but I need to make these business decisions on my own. It's been a pleasure having our chats, and I wish you the best."
 

Dan_Cardone

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I agree with you ... the problem is the OP's feeling that she might make trouble. Especially if the 'firing' is the first time she had any real idea that there was a problem.
Something that has worked for me...

Give her a written statement that essentially says "Your fired." Obviously it must be more professional and eloquent. Part of the wording would state that in exchange for a "clean breakup" you will be happy to give her a glowing recommendation to any company or person who contacts you as a reference. If you can afford it, letting her part with a little money paid over a three month period also tends to be a good 'bribe' of sorts.

The key is to have, in big bold red letters somewhere on the page, "A COPY OF THIS DOCUMENT WILL BE FORWARDED TO [FIRST NAME] [LAST NAME] ATTORNEY AT LAW."

Once someone knows that a lawyer is involved anywhere they tend to walk a straight line. Lawyers scare people more than cops!
 

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Kevin88660

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I don’t why the OP cannot do this.

“Hey you know what. I like your contribution so far to the business and for what you have done. You are really passionate about it and hence you are giving all the opinion on what to do and what not to do. I am willing to take what you said into consideration but after I have decided on it I hope you can support me. Because for this organization to run efficiently, there must be one final decision maker and it has to be me the owner.”

If she disagree then go ahead and fire her for sure.

But if the OP choose to fire her now, it is basically irresponsible and very childish. That reminds me of a high school girl who deleted the a guy and his entire network of friends off facebook because the guy confessed his love and she panicked and does not know how to tell him that she is not interested in a relationship.
 

kelvinfernandezm

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Just tell her you're going in a new direction and you no longer need her help.

@Damian Pros thread talks about this. Read the section on how to manage employees. He had a similar situation with one of his employees.

This women is not even your employee. There are many people like that in this world. They make their way into businesses and organizations and completely ruin them from the inside. She's manipulating you. Next thing you know she'll start demanding half your profits.

Grow some balls and take back ownership of your business.
 

Bertram

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Out, out, out. She is a bad listener and difficult to work with.
Fire her quickly, because the individual is not troubled ar all by the fact that she wastes your precious time and creative energy.
Fearing her retaliation? Even more reason to fire the ungrateful witch.
Beware! Do not give her a bonus. She'll start thinking you're buying her out of a sweat equity investment or who knows what. You're the one who might get a letter from an attorney if you start comp!icating things.
Her earnings have included bragging rights at the playground mom's coffee klatch where she calls herself the marketing coordinator or creative consultant for your company. That has boosted her confidence and work resume, as well as inhanced her abilify to go out and get real work with a real employer instead of a big softie like you. At that new job she won't have the luxury of squabbling away the hours.
Some women get involved in a project for no reason at all but the desire to direct something. She can immediately find something else to run.
Do not give a bonus. You are firing her because she does not accept beimg managed. She wants to be the boss.
State in a brief letter that you are taking your company in a different direction and will no longer need her services.
Have the balls to recognize that you owe her no explanation.

Make it easy for her to move on. Never describe how you think she has helped nor what you think of her work. If the experience doesn' t have a very bitter aftertaste this crusader probably will leave you alone until you take her back.
Further, it sounds like a very unhealthy work relationship for her, having a boss she can annoy and disrespect. Bet you remind her of Ex Number Two.
Hope this helps.
 
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shackrack

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Jul 27, 2019
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Out, out, out. She is a bad listener and difficult to work with.
Fire her quickly, because the individual is not troubled ar all by the fact that she wastes your precious time and creative energy.
Fearing her retaliation? Even more reason to fire the ungrateful witch.
Beware! Do not give her a bonus. She'll start thinking you're buying her out of a sweat equity investment or who knows what. You're the one who might get a letter from an attorney if you start comp!icating things.
Her earnings have included bragging rights at the playground mom's coffee klatch where she calls herself the marketing coordinator or creative consultant for your company. That has boosted her confidence and work resume, as well as inhanced her abilify to go out and get real work with a real employer instead of a big softie like you. At that new job she won't have the luxury of squabbling away the hours.
Some women get involved in a project for no reason at all but the desire to direct something. She can immediately find something else to run.
Do not give a bonus. You are firing her because she does not accept beimg managed. She wants to be the boss.
State in a brief letter that you are taking your company in a different direction and will no longer need her services.
Have the balls to recognize that you owe her no explanation.

Make it easy for her to move on. Never describe how you think she has helped nor what you think of her work. If the experience doesn' t have a very bitter aftertaste this crusader probably will leave you alone until you take her back.
Further, it sounds like a very unhealthy work relationship for her, having a boss she can annoy and disrespect. Bet you remind her of Ex Number Two.
Hope this helps.
Well, thanks. I think!

Real employer? I may be a big softie, but class myself as a real employer. My company is not that old and I'm new to hiring and firing and managing staff, but still think im a good employer.

I also think your remark is a little sexist. Women and men can both be this way.

Anyways, she has gone. I did decide to break th news a few days ago and it wasnt so bad. She told me she wasnt going to go for a new job so no reference required, that she is sorry I felt that way and it was never her intention.

A learning curve yes. Bad experience? No.

Thanks everyone for your advice.
 

Brewmacker

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Hello

I own and run an online service that offers digital artwork, graphics etc. It's a business I started in 2013 as a hobby and it has grown into my full time job.

About a year ago, one of my customers started chatting and became very interested in the business. She was keen to write some blog posts and do some general stuff, like answer a few customer service emails. I decided to allow her to do this and she wanted to do so unpaid. Over time, I started to pay her small amounts, but she wanted it all off record due to her being a single mom and I was happy to just do so.

In the last 6 months, I've been playing around with new ideas, bouncing stuff around and making some changes to features on the site. She was strongly opposed to some, and others she loved. Not that these were her right to be involved with, but she started wanting to have long chats about the ideas. From the start I felt this wasn't really her business, but I allowed these chats when I should have said from the start, you're role is just to help out as we agreed, but she feels now she is part of the business, feels ver involved and is frankly starting to become quite frustrating as these chats, her ideas and our disagreements are slowing down progress, making me question my own decisions even though I know i am right and also making me realise I really miss working on my own. She has also hinted at a 'pay rise' and going official.

I should have not let things get this far, but I have and now I am faced with a decision.... do I lay down the law, get her to work on just waht I want and pay her more, or 'fire' her? To be honest, I want the freedom of working alone again but I worry that A. she may become disruptive as she is in contact with my suppliers and some customers and B. I actually feel quite guilty about it because she is so committed and loves the business.

I guess mostly I want to work alone again, make all my own decisions and remove the distraction, but I'm keen to hear other people's input and suggestions/ own points of view on this.

Thanks everyone.
Hi OP,

I hear what you are saying and I am going to be the a**hole that plays devils advocate. It seems like you are panicking maybe because you feel threatened. So I must state that I am not here to criticize you, rather to help you take a step back.

How do you clearly set your boundaries as a boss with this (off the record) employee?
Seriously reflect on that for a second. Do you let her behaviors build up in side you until you snap or are you direct and draw the line?

You say she cares and is passionate about the business which is a valuable asset. (e.g. founder of airB&B used to ask in interviews, would you still work here if you had three months to live?).
How do you process her negative feedback internally? Again, really open to yourself & reflect on this. Do you immediately put your guard up or do you really take her advice to heart?
How could her advice benefit your company, how could it not? and how do you feed back this information to her? What can you do to make your point of view heard?

I understand you are the boss and I also understand that you need to make the final decision. How could making her an employee change the feelings inside you knowing that this relationship is clearly defined and boss employee. What do you think it will do to her mentality. Now she is freelance, and then she is answering to a boss. Maybe this dynamic will change things for both of you.

I know I am blinded by emotions sometimes and the people on this forum have tested me when I needed their help. I was wrong I realized, even when I was so sure I was right :)
 

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