TIPs to improve work relationships

Question posed: I knew my friend had up and down moods before we started a business, so we were clear about our roles. Our small business is now successful and very busy with just us two working; how do I handle those moods keeping me uncertain and distracted?

Answer: The business is successful (congratulations) so moods turned into an issue when the work model changed from startup to growth. Uncertainty and change are stressful, which contributes to blame, interferes with productivity, and can make you both feel unappreciated. Here’s a few suggestions to address the issue you describe:Take perspective: yours, mine and ours

The ability to see another person’s point of view is always a good starting point for dealing with that person. What’s going on with your co-owner to be moody? Have the moods changed that makes you less tolerant of them, or has your tolerance changed as the nature of the work changes with success? Has the dynamic between you changed as you each have adapted to new situations? At the next owners’ meeting put it on the agenda. Talk about it in a non-threatening, non-defensive, non-accusatory way. If you can’t have that conversation without a meeting facilitator, hire a good one. If you don’t yet have owners’ meetings, is it time to start?

Provide you both stress relief in the work environment 

It’s easy to rack up long days in your own business. Your co-owner is also affected by whatever’s causing the moodiness. What stress relief techniques work for you? The Internet is loaded with suggestions for relieving stress. Meditation and exercise are two favourites. Did you once do fun things together, before success got in the way? Productivity goes up when people are fulfilled at work.

Practice your empathy

You knew about the moods and still went into business together. How did you handle the moods with empathy before? When can you dedicate some time to showing that empathy again, since your co-owner might respond well to knowing you still care, no matter how busy and successful you are? Ask yourself if success interferes with your human side showing.

Be assertive when necessary

You didn’t become successful without setting goals for what you wanted and limits to what you needed. If you can’t get back in balance because of the moods, what boundaries must you set? How can you set them (with empathy)?

Clear roles and goals reduce conflict and stress

At some point, you each agreed on how to divide the work, and it’s been successful. Have you checked in to make sure that role division is still meeting both your needs, the business’s goals, and the best use of your skills? As businesses mature, co-owners might find the nature of the work shifts and their skills need honing. What training and supports do you each need to grow as the business grows, and to ensure continued success, professionally and personally?

Bottom line

Talk to each other about these irritants before they cost you a successful business and a friendship.

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