… If you compare how you work vs how your partner gets stuff done, you will create conflict. It means you are measuring time spent rather than how talents are employed. No one likes you looking over their shoulder.
In this series of blog posts, we’ll present each of the signs and what to do if you’ve got this partnership pain. Make sure you read all the blog posts in the series… you may have more than one.
Why bother to consider re-committing to your business partner? In a 2008 study of US Companies by the Small Business Administration, companies run by partners beat sole proprietors hands down… Over 30 years, partnership revenue went up by 157% over 30 years. Sole proprietors lost 7% year over year.
Keep reading so you understand how this pain seeps into your working relationship, and most importantly, join us for an eye-opening free video training so you know what to do about getting back in the driver’s seat… then you can kick this habit to the curb so you can re-commit with the right rocket fuel in place… or divorce without blowing up your business investment.
Sign #4 Work Style Conflict
When I first met my husband and business partner, I thought it was a very complementary pairing: he added great value to help my clients drive their company’s people performance.
However, he had always worked for companies where there many people to take care of things. I had mainly worked in entrepreneurial companies where you do what you have to do and if you don’t know how you figure it out.
So when we first started out, I figured we should split work fairly and evenly. We would both do business development, consult and coach. That’s the life of a consultant.
I had been doing consulting and business development for 15 years by that point. Rob was putting his toe in the water.
I should never have expected him to be able to work in the way I did – networking, writing, calling, positioning, messaging. My talent is business. His is people. But I’m embarrassed to say that I did.
Yes, I got stuck in the ‘Fair’s fair game‘. He would have to learn, I reasoned. So then we embarked on a training program… which basically found me lecturing and looking over his shoulder while he attempted to make connections with people on the phone and at fancy receptions.
You may already know this story ends. He bombed. Of course he would, trying something new and attempting to do it as well as me from the starting gate.
Put me in the same position attempting to be a masterful mediator with a family business or partners struggling to stay together and see how well I do. I trip over my words, put my foot in it and don’t know how to manoeuvre around the land mines.
But the work of the company had to get done. So would that mean I had to take on more jobs than he did? No fair’s fair. I could feel the protests rise up inside my head and a grim line spread across my face (he hates that look, by the way).
He didn’t have my skill sets. I didn’t have his. It was why we were partners. So it would never look like we were equally contributing.
Worse, my talents tended to keep me at a desk banging away at a computer or on networking dates. His work did not require him to spend hours in an office.
Finally we settled into roles that worked. I find doors to open, he walks in and closes the deal.I write the proposals.
He starts client engagements, I take them to the next level. He negotiates contracts, I facilitate planning.
He coaches individuals and partners, I coach teams.
He does the taxes and the invoices (hooray!). I write the books.
He fixes the hardware, I fix the software.
My partner has great ideas. I turn them into action plans. He then finds the loop hole or the gem and makes them that much better. I turn the plan into a result.
It’s what we do best together, interlacing our expertise, that matters, not how much equality of time and effort we put in.
We are so much better off because we’ve divided the work based on our strengths, not based on fairness.
We’re getting even better at outsourcing what truly isn’t either of our strengths and hiring for the skills or experience we don’t have… because the company needs someone in the role now, not waiting until one of us figures out how to do something.
1. Measuring how long it takes you to do something vs how long it takes your partner.
2. Noticing how long you stay at your desk vs when your partner arrives and leaves.
3. Evaluating his or her work against how well you would do the same activity and finding fault.
4. Wishing your partner would work at the same efficient pace that you do.
5. Noticing the state of your partner’s desk, inbox and to do list and comparing it to yours, and finding fault.
6. Noting what time your partner arrives in the morning, goes for lunch and leaves in the evening and comparing the time spent with hours you slave away.
7. Confusing time spent with quality of effort.
8. Confusing time spent with effectiveness of the thinking that went into solving the problem.
9. Refusing to provide help because it’s your partner’s area of responsibility, not yours.
10. Getting irritated every time your partner interrupts you with yet another idea, problem or issue he or she wants to discuss.
That’s just a few of the roadblocks that come up when you have work style differences and a burning need to have everything even steven, fair’s fair and equal pay for equal work.
The best partnerships are a collaboration of skills, strengths, abilities, aptitude, interests, time and passion. The fact that you don’t work in the same way as your partner is the reason you’re with him or her.
Your next step is to learn how to collaborate.
How do you negotiate organization, work and managing style differences in your business partnership? How do you deal with the fact that the work you do is never fairly distributed? Leave your comments and questions and below and let’s get more strategies on the table.
Wonder if you might have other signs your partnership needs some retooling?