Growing Pains and Guilt Trips

Your business is growing. You need to hire and train people to help it grow. You’re worried about “quality control”. Customers and guests say that they love the way YOU do things. So much pressure!

Man did I feel guilty when we grew our business enough that I didn’t need to be there 24/7. Does that sound strange? Why would I feel guilt about growing a business and hiring people to help it grow?

It was the result of some well-intentioned, although misguided, comments.

This is similar to what happens when announcing a first pregnancy (I’ve not had that experience). My friends say that when they shared their announcement, people, sometimes strangers, would tell them their horror stories! Who wants to hear that stuff anyway?!

Or, when you’re wanting to start a business, you share your excitement and vision with your nearest and dearest, and instead of being happy for, and encouraging you, they are a wet blanket. They bring up all the scary things that could go wrong.

These “fear-based comments” came when our business grew to the next level and I needed to hire employees. This well intentioned “sharing of concern” was a bit misguided.

  • “But they’re not you.”
  • “They don’t do it quite like you do.”
  • “I love seeing YOU there.”
  • “But this is YOUR baby.”

While people were trying to compliment, what they didn’t realize that they were also doing was giving me a guilt trip. At first, the comments rattled me, and I took that trip.

I felt guilty. How absurd is that?

  • Guilty that business was growing, and we needed staff?
    • Guilty for not trying to do everything?
      • Guilty for growing success?

After a while I decided I didn’t want to be on board that train! No thank you.

It took a while to not feel guilty or fearful of making a misstep. Maybe you’re struggling with the same thing?

Here are some takeaways that helped me get off the guilt train.

  1. Answering “guilt” people by uplifting and pointing out the amazing and interesting things about my staff that I thought they’d love.
    (Redirecting the conversation from their fear to a positive compliment about someone else.)
  2. NOT telling people all my reasons for needing to hire.
    (Really none of anyone’s business.)
  3. Training and empowering my staff to make mistakes and how to make it right with customers when they DO make mistakes – because they will.
    (This one was difficult for me – a type A control person who always strives for perfection.)
  4. Letting my staff “take over” without me there.
    (After guided training and practice of course!).

I’m a big advocate of changing the topic from something negative and pointing toward the positive. Most often it stops people in their tracks. It’s not surprising that people complain easier than they complement or encourage.

News of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience.
Office of Consumer Affairs

Working to change the Negative Nellie Narrative has many positive benefits.

You’re viewed as a positive person, a problem solver, a person who empowers others.

All are great qualities for a leader!


When change is imminent, pointing out the positive to clients and guests will help them to stay loyal to you and it makes them feel more valued.

When you uplift an employee and highlight, say, a hobby, you’re making a connection between the customer and your employee.

This connection between two strangers is a vitally important one.

It’s a prerequisite to grace, understanding, and empathy from customer to employee, and employee to customer.

When you’re turning over some of the reigns to staff, that’s exactly what the doctor ordered.

samantha-irwin-25How have you coped with the unintentional “guilt trip” comments? What strategies have worked well for your business?
Grow your business through creating excellent Customer Experiences

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