Saturday, September 18, 2010

How to Rebuild Business Relationships

Do you know couples, siblings, friends, families who are in business together? And in spite of having achieved business success, now they can't seem to get along and they are constantly going at each other?

I grew up in a family business environment as well as have been in one. In addition to having experienced the joys of partnership and family business, I also have experienced the struggles and the pain. I have seen up close way too many relationships fall apart, among those who are otherwise good kind loving individuals, each doing their very best. It's painful to watch and to experience it.

It doesn't have to be that way.

Business relationships can fall apart for many reasons: miscommunication, lack of communication, lack of understanding, behavioral differences, apathy, separate schedules, busy schedules, or disagreements. Sometimes blow ups happen and other times the relationship just slowly falls apart.

The challenge becomes even greater in family businesses where members are unable to communicate about sensitive or heated subjects without ending up in some kind of an argument. One person may yell while another may shut down, and yet a third may storm out of the room. Each reacts differently, and no one understands why the others don't see the situation his or her way.

While it's true that every family and every business group has disagreements, when you mix family members with business issues, the conflicts are more intense and more frequent. Specially since family members know how to push each other's buttons, and they do can do so, and do, freely.

I know when I was in business, I yearned for a way of addressing heated topics with family members in a manner that does not impede on the company's success, and vice versa. Not knowing how at the time, I used to often feel very isolated and frustrated.

As they say, if I knew then what I know now.

When my own business relationship fell apart, after being together for nearly 20 years, I silently wowed to figure out how this happens and how it can be fixed, or prevented in the first place. After spending nearly 3 years delving into this, I believe through real life application, that nearly every business relationship can be repaired, or reinstated. While there are many ways of doing that, I will discuss one of those ways here.

When a relationship has gone south, one of the biggest challenges is how to open up the dialogue. One of ways to open up and restart the conversation, first step to repair, is via the use of personality profiles. The one I myself use with business partners and business teams is called The Trimetrix, and it's one of the most powerful instruments I have come to use.

What's valuable is not just what the reports provide, and do so in an objective neutral way, it's that they provide a means through which conversation can begin. As the results from these profiles are discussed, first individually and then as a group, I have experienced over and over that conversation once again begins to flow, people start to open up, misunderstandings start to turn into understandings, conflicts begin to turn into synergy, participants start to release long held thoughts, their perspectives start to shift, to name just a few of the many benefits.

Key to make this work is to have an outside expert administer the assessments and conduct the debriefs individually as well as facilitate the group conversation when conducting the group debrief. In addition to the expertise, they are neutral and objective and keep the group together and moving forward. Also, as an added benefit, these profiles also provide a common language for communication and that's often very helpful.

If you are experiencing tensions, communication breakdowns, cold war, or open heated arguments, I urge you to seriously consider the use of personality profiles and follow what I am suggesting. It's one of the best investments you'll make. In addition to getting your relationships back on track, you'll begin to also notice the very positive impact this will have on your business as well as other aspects of your life.

If you have any questions, please just ask. I wish you the very best.

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