It’s no secret that working with your life partner is going to be challenging at times, though not without massive rewards, there are certainly quite a few easy tips you can follow to make this partnership more successful. Here are my top 10 tips for working with your partner that will help build an accomplished career together.
- Have clear defined business roles. When beginning our business we did an exercise that outlined what we both wished to achieve from our business, we then outlined what needed to be done on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to keep things running smoothly. From this we were able to establish clear individual roles within our business, we took this one step further and have written job descriptions for each of us, so that we are very clear who is responsible for what. This saves many disagreements.
- Set goals for work and life, together and individually. This step is really important to keep you both working to a common goal within the business, while also maintaining your own identity with having individual goals. In my experience, the potential loss of my own identity, was a large concern for me. This is one of the ways, I was able to be clear around who I was, and what I wanted to achieve.
- Don’t argue in public. I think at times, it is easy to forget, that in relationships we communicate differently than we do in our regular working life. A disagreement no matter how big or small, can be thrown out of proportion when done in public. The language we use with one another is different to the way we speak to our staff, and has the potential to be misunderstood by others listening in. We save these conversations for private, and prevent this from discrediting us.
- Make time for weekly meetings. This is not something we have always done, but without the weekly meetings, we found that because we were communicating on the run, we’d often mishear or misinterpret what was being said. Weekly meetings, just like if we were regular employees, keeps us on the same page, and gives us minutes to refer back to if necessary.
- Have separate work spaces. This may seem a little impractical, but wow it made a difference for us. This means we get a little space from one another, often. Working with your partner can be great, but some days you will just annoy each other just being around, while this is normal, there still needs to be a way for it to be dealt with, for you each to be able to function effectively. We have Adam set up in the library and I have my little desk nook near the kitchen, just enough space, especially if we’ve had a falling out.
- Separate home and work. We have strict working hours, and we only discuss work within this time, likewise we do not discuss the children or our relationship during this time. This keeps us professional and on target with work only. It did take a LOT of practice, as we have such busy lives, we found if we were not working hard on keeping this boundary, we would find work and family time bleeding into one another.
- Don’t forget to be grateful for one another. When you are working with your partner, it is really easy to forget simple thank you’s, or to take the time to point out something they did well. We do this for our staff, but often found we forgot each other. It only takes a moment to say thank you, or you handled that really well, and the benefits are amazing. Work place satisfaction is as important for a couple as it is for anyone else.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses. Let’s be honest, we all have them, it’s important to work towards your strengths, and share your weaknesses. We regularly review these, because over time we find this is changing. This also gives us the opportunity to change our job descriptions when necessary, and share out the workload to who it best suits. For example, we are commencing a trial period of me becoming the project manager for our jobs. Organisation is a strong point for me, and we would like to see where this can take our company. Don’t be afraid to train for your weaknesses and develop yourself, and each other where you are able. No job should be stagnant, this is a great way to keep it from becoming so.
- Try to schedule some time at work where you are not together. For us this looks like Adam working on site, while I am in the office. I try and schedule my site visits when he is not there. That way we are both getting time to be who we are without just being the partner. The other alternative we use when we are stuck in a rut, is to take the office outside of the home. If we have to work together, we might go to the park, or a cafe, or library, just somewhere outside of the usual space, to keep us fresh.
- Don’t forget to make personal time outside of work hours. In the early days, because we were working together all the time, we quickly filled up our personal or family time, leaving little or no romantic time for one another. These days we have regular “dates” in which we are able to re-connect on a personal level, without the hangover of business and the family.
Working with your partner effectively, is certainly very do-able, with so many wonderful benefits. I can honestly say it has strengthened our relationship, and our business. It does take time, and commitment to make it work, but I would recommend it highly.
Do you work with your partner? Have you any tips to share? Would you consider working with your partner?
Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.