Am i expecting too much from my business partner?

Postby Gitana » Tue Aug 29, 2017 6:40 am

My business partner and I have been working efficiently on our company for the past 4 years.

Lately however, i started to notice a certain slow-down in their behavior - job was ultimately done most to the time, but at a slower pace; some emails were left unanswered, meetings had been rescheduled then cancelled, and we even lost a client because of that. Addressing the issue, it occurs this was due to some family/significant-other s type of duties.

I explained my expectation (firm weekly meeting times, responsiveness, accountability) but i m met with denials and also a sense of "you re the one asking too much" type of response. Said partner wont admit any wrong-doing or lack of personal investment into our entreprise.

I probably should act as an understanding motivator etc.. which is what i ve been doing for the past few years, but i m growing tired of that, and now i m wondering if i m not simply lying to myself with wishful thinking.

Now my question is this: how do i deal with that constructively?
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#1

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Tue Aug 29, 2017 1:54 pm

Gitana wrote:
I explained my expectation (firm weekly meeting times, responsiveness, accountability) but i m met with denials and also a sense of "you re the one asking too much" type of response. Said partner wont admit any wrong-doing or lack of personal investment into our entreprise.

Now my question is this: how do i deal with that constructively?


The expectations don't sound clear. What does responsiveness or accountability even mean? Respond to my emails within X hours? The firm weekly meeting times seems relatively clear.

You deal with it constructively in a very, very simple manner. When a clear expectation is violated, e.g. meeting at 8a on Monday is late/missed, you have very clear consequences up to and including termination of the business arrangement. I'm not saying immediately, but rather an escalating series of understood consequences.

As for the admission or excuse part...you don't deal with it. The only thing you need to know is did or did the partner make the meeting at the agreed upon time? Did they meet the expectation or not? Yes or no?

If I was dealing with a partner, my tolerance would be fairly low. I would pretty much have a 3 strike rule. Can't meet expectations once, okay. Two times? Three? Anyone that can't meet agreed upon expectations three times? Why would I want to work with them?
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#2

Postby Gitana » Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:31 pm

Thanks for your input Richard!

Accountability means to me that you admit you responsability whenever you have one.
Responsiveness means that yes, you address every emails within a certain time-frame (not one week after)

I hear you about not wanting to work with someone who doesnt meet your expectations, but what do you do when you already started a business with that someone 4 years ago, when that someone was very efficient and active for almost 4 years, until now? This slow-down happened only "lately".

What are "escalating series of understood consequences" when dealing with your business partner?

The way i see it, I can either stay, or go (and therefore terminate our business), hence my asking for "constructively"dealing with this - do i have other options?
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#3

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Tue Aug 29, 2017 11:16 pm

Gitana wrote:... but what do you do when you already started a business with that someone 4 years ago, when that someone was very efficient and active for almost 4 years, until now? This slow-down happened only "lately".


It is the sunk cost fallacy, a cognitive bias where we continue to invest resources and energy based on past rather than current information. You have built something over 4 years, but your decisions about what to do moving forward need to be based on who he is today, not who he was previously. You cannot recover previous resources. They are sunk. This is not a bad thing as sinking those resources established a 4 year business, but you don't want to make decisions moving forward based on some previous level of efficiency or activity on his part.

What are "escalating series of understood consequences" when dealing with your business partner?


You need to have a very clear, agreed upon understanding. For instance, missing a meeting hurts the bottom line. You need your partner to acknowledge this basic concept and then accept that if either of you miss a meeting it comes out of whatever pay/profits. A type of fine that applies to you both. Same could be said for an email that goes unanswered. The fine of say $200 for missing a meeting is a consequence, but it is more symbolic than anything else.

Most companies have a progressive system. You get a verbal warning, then written up, then a one day suspension, then termination. That gives a person 3 times to screw up and the 4th time the business relationship is terminated.

The way i see it, I can either stay, or go (and therefore terminate our business), hence my asking for "constructively"dealing with this - do i have other options?


If it is strictly a business relationship, there are not really other options. It is a business, not friendship, family, a charity, etc. Escalating consequences followed by termination of the relationship. It doesn't matter why his performance has deteriorated.

But when it is a family owned business or life long friendship, when there is an emotional attachment, then the business approach is not very palatable. It is cold, detached. If this is the case you try and work with them, helping them through the problem. In the meantime you, the business, and business relationships will suffer.
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#4

Postby Gitana » Wed Aug 30, 2017 3:04 am

Thank you Richard for taking the time to explain all this - obviously i dont know much about strict business world per se (i m into the entertainment business and even when functioning very well, it can be very "flexible" with things like hours, time, outfit, drugs and such... )

Although i learn and appreciate your input, especially about the mistake of investing ressources and energy based on the past.

And yes, there s some friendship/family dimension to the business relationship - and it s also highly creative and personal - none of us is any easily replaceable.

Thus me trying to carefully sort it out - helping my partner through the issues, and myself in the process. Therefore you are totally right, the business, the business relationship AND the relationship do suffer in the meantime.

I m on the lookout to constructive approach to this. We had a talk for several hours over this yesterday, where i mostly met denial and bad faith, which made me sad somehow. I felt betrayed regarding our initial mission statement 4 years ago. Today i could notice a sense of "im gonna work double to show you how wrong you are", so i try to see the positive consequences, but overall, it s obvious that there s an time allocation issue towards the business, and yet they wouldnt admit it.

Still open for any further advice on this :)
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