Business partnerships are just like any important interpersonal relationship - they require attention and care to thrive. Unfortunately, many partners can fall into traps that sour the relationship and even create a toxic work environment. This can lead to costly disputes and dissolution of the partnership.
Here are three common reasons these relationships become strained and how partners can overcome them.
1. Different management styles
When one partner manages in a more authoritarian, micro-managing fashion and another takes a laid-back, hands-free approach, there is bound to be friction.
Both management styles have their pros and cons and can work in the right applications, but it can cause partners to feel there is an imbalance in workload or that they are confined to a role that doesn't suit their talents. In other scenarios, it can be uncomfortable if employees pick and choose which manager to approach about a given issue based on the type of response they are hoping to receive.
Try to communicate clearly with your business partner about expectations for how each of you will manage the business and its employees, and make sure your employees know who is the best management contact for a given issue.
2. Different skills
Similarly to management style, partners may bring different sets of skills to the table. It may even be why the partnership seemed like such a great idea from its inception. However, a gap in skills between partners can lead to insecurity about the value each partner brings to the business, which can cause tension.
Make sure both partners recognize and regularly acknowledge the value of the skills you each bring to the table, and try to establish clear roles in the business for each of you to let those skills shine.
3. Financial woes
Money is a common factor in divorces between two people who were once in love, so it's no surprise it would cause discord in a business setting. Many partners face issues with dividing equity and financing the business itself.
From the onset, business partners should be addressing these concerns and make clear their expectations, but constant communication is important to ensure there are no lingering tensions in the future.
Understanding how cracks can start to appear in solid partnerships and turn into larger business disputes and taking the steps to avoid them will help partners continue to thrive as the work together to bring the business into the future.