Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Getting Along with Your Business Partners

In my experience, majority of business problems, especially in partnership based businesses find their roots in communication breakdowns. When business partners don't get along or are not working effectively, and this is even more true for businesses involving family members, you'll find gaps in communication. What then takes place is "I said, you said...I thought, you thought...". Moles turn into mountains, no one wins.

The solution is very clear - communicate, communicate, communicate! Communicate expectations, roles & responsibilities, vision, values, purpose, base strategy and strategic focus, critical success factors, and so on.

Sounds pretty easy, right? Yeah. Sounds easy but tough to do.

In today's fast pace, we get so caught up in day-to-day tasks that we don't make time for such important conversations. This is even more true for family businesses where they don't incorporate regular meetings. It also happens because sometime we don't know how to start and have such conversations. And the more delicate the issue, the tougher and therefore even more critical to have communication.

Otherwise, while everyone may think everything is progressing smoothly and that everyone is on the same page, likely there are unresolved issues stewing underneath that hamper future business and relations. Furthermore, when such dialogue is missing, "grapevine" runs rampant, organization lacks focus and alignment, valuable resources are split into multiple directions, to name just a few.

If you want your business to last, on-going communications are vital. If you are at a point where emotions run hot during your meetings, make the investment in an outside moderator, a facilitator, someone who understands the unique challenges associated with partnership and family based businesses. They, being neutral and objective, can help you manage conflicts and keep conversations on track.

On-going communication is one of the best investments any partnership and family business can make to ensure lasting success. Whatever you do, please make time to regularly communicate. It's vital to your success.

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