Bringing Very Different Owners Together in Partnership

I had a business owner tell me he spent 4 hours searching for an expert to help him and his business partner work through some difficult issues that were tearing their hair out and tearing everyone in their multi-million-dollar, small-sized company apart. Tom and Ed had resorted to blaming and shaming. Angry, lengthy outbursts and shutdowns ensued. What started out in 1917 as a hopeful 50-50% partnership had rapidly deteriorated. They were stuck and didn’t know what to do.

Having been through couple’s therapy and counseling in the past, aware of coaching and business consulting, Ed went online to search every variation of words and phrases to find the right help, including concepts of anger and fighting in relationships to therapy, couples therapy, life coaching, leadership coaching, business owners, business coaching and many permutations in between. The list went on and on. Exhausted, he almost gave up.

Then he found my executive coaching and business consulting services, where a major focus of my work is with entrepreneurs, business owners, business partners. Through our work together, individually, as partners, and as a team, Ed and Tom, and their entire group have had greater success in working compatibly and more efficiently together ever since.

As business owners, Tom and Ed needed to work out the huge chasm that had opened between them. Development of their communication and mutual leadership skills came first. We all would admit it was tough going at first. Focusing on what they value, where they do come together, and most importantly, on the long-term growth they both desire, brought them back together—not in the former unconscious way—but in a new way.

This has been especially important for these business partners since each of them has family members working in their company. They go out to their customers, but each works from home, staying connected remotely for many days. It’s not quite a family run business, however, it’s a business of two families and expanding their number of employees and contracted salespeople. So you can see that when the business partners have discord, it’s easy for it to trickle down the company and seep into family life.

Coaching to maximize partner differences.

Coaching to maximize partner differences focuses business partners on values and outcomes to create alignment. Pairing this with relationship skills leads to the success they both desire.

Focus On Mutually Desired Outcomes Brings Alignment and Successful Outcomes

Individually and together, I coach and teach, observe and offer feedback. These are typically alternative ways of interacting and responding as they work together and with their team. Both owners have become increasingly aware of their unique styles and do not dismiss or demean one another as often, now finding value in their differences. They show more appreciation for one another and take things less personally. While they sometimes run into potholes, focusing on the business needs and planning for growth brings them more quickly back on track.

Through regularly scheduled business owner meetings in which they take time to listen and to plan together, Ed and Tom have successfully begun separating their skill and management lanes while also practicing coming together around joint decision-making where it’s needed as joint owners. As a result, they’ve become more objective, are able to connect and enjoy one another more, and are looking to expand and grow their company in the coming years.

With the increased growth of projects and staff, Ed and Tom are focused on learning to let go, to delegate to the competent people on their team.  This is what every CEO needs to do if they are going to grow. Because of this emphasis, everyone in the company is developing new skills, taking on increased responsibility, and stepping up to the challenge all because these two business partners obviously value growth for themselves and everyone around them.

When we came to Jan, our company was financially strong…but we were new business partners. Our different management styles negatively affected our employees, sowing distrust among the ranks. We had a very difficult time working together running the business. In front of the customers, we were great. In front of our employees was another thing altogether.

We reached out to Jan in an attempt to fix what was broken. She’s worked diligently with us to learn to trust each other, embrace each other’s style of management, and realize that we both had the best interest of the company at heart. Jan showed us how the business needs both our ways of thinking and will thrive if we allow each other’s strength to shine.

-Business Owner/Partners

Dr. Jan Hoistad