5 WAYS TO MAKE WORKING WITH YOUR PARTNER A LITTLE EASIER
For as long as I can remember, my parents worked together. When I was really little, my mum was the admin to the business, while Dad was a technician and salesperson. Then they bought a general store which we had until I left school. Then they went into business with another couple and bought a video store (hey, it was the 90s and VHS was king!) and a takeaway. So my point is, I’ve lived every day with people who worked and lived together.
Now, as an adult, I work and live with my partner. We’ve been (successfully) doing this for 8 years and there are a few things I’ve learnt about living and working with your partner that are worth sharing.
1. MAKE SURE YOU CAN COMMUNICATE
And I don’t just mean in a question and answer format. Nothing will test your relationship more than working with your partner every single day. If your communication is in any way lacking, you can bet that will be tested more than you ever dreamed possible. “Fine” will not cut it as an answer, nor will a passive-aggressive comment.
If you know there are things you don’t or can’t talk about now, make sure you find a way to rectify that before going into business together.
2. DIVIDE THE LABOUR
It seems that in every couple I know who work together, there is the ‘responsible’ one. They are the person who will pick up the slack and make sure things happen Usually they are the more detail-oriented person in the relationship. With my folks, it was my mum. With my partner and me, it’s definitely him.
If you’re the big picture person (like I am), make sure you figure out a way to even up the scales. That might mean giving them time off for all the extra bits and pieces they do, making sure you acknowledge that they keep things ticking over or finding an employee to share the load. This will save you a lot of heartache down the track.
3. TAKE TIME OUT
This may seem like an obvious one, but you have to set time aside for you to just be a couple. That means no talking work! It’s hard, I know, but if you don’t watch it, your romantic relationship can simply become another work colleague relationship.
We run a business where orders and service calls come in at all times of the day (or night). So yes, there are a few nights when we’re both doing admin in front of the TV, but if we are on ‘date night’ then it’s just me and him and a few blissful hours without mention of business.
4. BEGIN WITH AN END IN MIND
We never like to think that a relationship is going to end, yet sadly statistics are not on our side. It’s one thing to be in a romantic relationship and have to separate it; it’s a whole other ball game to separate a business and a partnership.
It may not be sexy but if you are going into business together (or you already have) take some time to talk through and document what happens should one person want to leave.
5. DON’T DRAG YOUR FAMILY OR EMPLOYEES INTO IT
Not everything goes according to plan in business and when it doesn’t, it can get very awkward very quickly for the innocent bystanders. Make a pledge that you will both keep others out of whatever differences you’re facing.
Nothing will send your employees onto Seek quicker than being put in the middle of an argument, and let’s face it, your folks don’t need to know what’s going on in the day-to-day business.
These tips may seem simplistic at first glance. But if you spend some time getting these things right, you are well on your way to experiencing more joys than pitfalls from working with your partner.