I am one of 4 co-founders for a Minecraft community that is going live in January. In addition to the 4 of us, we have two administrators and a few moderators.

Founder A is the guy that provides the funds for the server. Other than this, he is fairly hands off unless I ask for help.

Founder B (myself) has been doing most of the work thus far. This involves getting the two dedicated servers up and running which is mostly configuring the servers/plugins/permissions.

Founder C comes and goes pretty much as he pleases. He has mood swings and vanishes for weeks at a time, causing anything he was working on to be put on hold. He's a great guy and can do the work, but he doesn't stick around long before another mood swing hits and he leaves.

Founder D is our advertiser. He's the person that can sell you anything and the reason this server will be successful when we launch in January. Both of our Admins are great people and can handle the in game administration and building we have requested of them.

The problem we have is with Founder C, we don't want to remove him from the servers and has been around longer than I have. However, his productivity is low and the mood swings kill all of our productivity because we have to deal with either him or what he was working on frequently.

I'm looking for ideas on how to deal with this Founder.

up vote 17 down vote accepted

The other 3 Founders need to speak with the problem founder. Depending on your dynamic, this can either be as a group or a simple one-on-one with a designated Founder to speak for you three. The one thing you want to avoid is having this look like a plot to band against Founder C. It makes it easier if they don't become defensive immediately.

In this meeting, mention exactly what you have here:

  • Low productivity
  • Mood swings that affect the team
  • Unreliability

Listen to their explanations and keep the conversation on track and civil. There may be valid, temporary reasons for all of these (school, vacations, sick family members, etc). If they are temporary, productivity may improve soon.

Next, ask what can be done to improve the reliability of Founder C. Two of your three complaints are related to productivity directly, and mood swings can impact it as well. Let him offer suggestions, but be prepared with your own. You do have some options:

  • Step down as a founder to one of the lower levels. Presumably these are less involved and stressful and don't require as large of a time commitment.
  • Step aside completely but remain as a core community member
  • Put in X hours per Y days in an effort to prepare the server(s) for new community members

Set a time line for when improvements are expected. Make it known that the other Founders are committed to launching the community and his involvement is important. If real life is interfering with that commitment, he needs to realize it and either step aside or find a way to balance the community and life. If he can't, and performance is important to you and your co-founders, he may need to be removed.

It's important to remember that you can't force them to do things. This isn't an employee and you aren't their boss. From your description, you guys are on equal footing. If you do end up removing this person, be prepared for a bruised ego. However, by having discussions with them and setting expectations on when problems will be resolved, you may be able to prevent a lot of bad feelings from cropping up.

An alternative approach to Andy's answer is much less direct. His approach is great if nothing else works, but if that approach fails, it may cause some irreversible damage. I'm guessing this person may spread some lies about the server saying the "admins kick people off for no reason" and it's "no fun to play." Also, asking him to step down seems a bit harsh when you don't know what's going on.

I don't know this person and I have no idea how he will react to this. However, before you have a serious talk with that person, maybe informally make a subtle hint.

Say something like, "I've been working on this part of the server for a bit and I don't have a lot of time to finish it. Since it needs to be done before XYZ can happen, can you help me finish it?" If there's no structure he may feel no need to do work. Create the structure so he will help.

When a mood swing occurs, try asking him what's the matter. There might be a big event going on that may be challenging for him (with him disappearing). Maybe he feels like the other founders are not listening to him and he's trying to get you to notice that.

Ultimately, it sounds like you will be forced to try to demote or remove him. It can be dangerous to keep someone like this on your team if he keeps acting this way. Extreme power comes with great responsibility; both being a founder and having the ability to kick other people off a team are big responsibilities.

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