I am the CEO of my startup, and have two co-founders. I hold the most shares among us, but our ownership percentages are fairly close. We have no other employees.
One co-founder is only involved part-time because of another job; he has useful connections for our business, but can't contribute much day-to-day.
The other one works in the company full-time like me, but needs to be guided through almost everything they do, taking very little initiative to solve problems on their own. I often feel that in the time I spend worrying about whether or not they have accomplished their next important task (and constantly following up with them), I could have just done it myself.
Am I better off trying to motivate them to contribute more, or looking for new team members?
I've done a ton of work on conflict management, starting / managing difficult conversations, and picking up the pieces after it goes poorly.
Here are a couple of tips on starting the discussion with someone who is not pulling their weight:
1. Decide what you need and want from the discussion before it ever starts... I can't tell you how many people I see that wade into a heavy discussion without knowing what the exit point is for all parties. By knowing, bottom line and what you need from that discussion, you can re-direct it towards that simple outcome if things spiral out of control.
2. In your first few sentences, re-assure the person this is a safe discussion... If there person doesn't know their fate in a heavy discussion, they're much more likely to be defensive. Start the discussion by letting them know you don't want out, you don't want them out, and this isn't a "fix it or we're done" discussion. Re-assure them that you are proud to work with them and that this discussion is meant to strengthen an already great team.
3. Promote COLLABORATION not COMPROMISE... Collaboration is two people working to meet each others' needs, whereas compromise is two people trying to give up as little ground as possible. Start by asking them if there is anything YOU can do to help them move towards the middle and pull the weight you need them to pull.
4. Set a date to re-evaluate... If the discussion is open-ended or viewed as a rant / lecture, you won't get a whole lot of follow-up. If you set a date to revisit (2-4 weeks is ideal), then it creates some sense of urgency and internal monitoring and people are more likely to accommodate your vision.
Hope that helps... you could write a novel on this stuff.
Remember, starting the conversation is the most important aspect. You cannot go around hoping people understand frustrations that you have not voiced. Remember to protect people's dignity and value - people who feel cared for will often bend over backwards for you.
I'd be happy to give you more tips on your specific situation... feel free to contact me through Clarity to set up a consulting arrangement.