An owner of a construction company was confused about the reaction his business assistant was having in the transition to the new year. The assistant had helped him develop his business and had been working with him for the past 3 years. However, his business was growing and he decided he needed to create different positions that before were only held by her. He approached her and asked her which position she would like to do, and her needs in terms of work time for the coming year. She reacted by becoming very "emotional" and could not really tell him what he needed to know. He was confused as to why she could not answer his question, given that he was being, according to himself, very considerate in asking her about her needs. He was having another meeting with her, and asked me what I thought he should do.
After inquiring further on her job situation, it became clear she was not unhappy with how much she was being paid - the owner was offering the amount she had asked for. I suggested he start the meeting with acknowledging her contribution to the company and what that meant for him on a personal level. I told him I thought that for her to be able to let go of the other functions she had been performing, she needed to have some sort of acknowledgment and recognition of what she had done.
The owner reported that he started the next meeting by expressing his gratefulness and acknowledging her for all she had done for him and the company. He told her he would not have been able to maintain the organization and functioning of all the different aspects of the business had it not been for her. He also told her his confidence and trust in her work had always brought him a sense of assurance and peace of mind, which had given him strength to endure the more challenging times in the company. He said she immediately relaxed and the conversation about the company reorganization went smoothly after that.
The assistant in the story needed a sense of closure to be able to transition to a different role in the company, and to let go of the jack of all trades she was performing before. Deep acknowledgement for her contribution was the missing human factor the assistant needed to be able to move on.