Today we are expanding on a topic within a previous post. In that post we spoke about clear concise open communication between business partners, in fact it should be a practice in all aspects of our lives between everyone we meet.
While having and maintaining clear concise open communication between partners keeps assumptions away, ensures everyone is on the same page and minimises misunderstandings, the possibilities of conflict or misalignment can and will still occur.
It can occur for many reasons; by default no two humans are alike, our needs and wants although can be similar can never be exactly the same, everyone is also developing and growing at different levels in life, the circles we roll in are different, our upbringing is different, there are so many factors that affect our judgement, wants, needs and decisions in life. These factors drive our business and career decisions, they drive our performance at work, they determine our commitment to projects and more. The difference between two people is what gives rise to conflicts.
the possibilities of conflict or misalignment can and will still occur
So what can you do to minimise conflicts and keep everyone in-sync?
There are alot of things we can do, here are 5 that come to mind.
1. Talk (and talk very often)
I can’t repeat this often enough and this is a repeat from my previous post.
It is imperative that you remove ego, step out of your comfort zone and adopt a practice of CLEAR CONCISE OPEN COMMUNICATION.
There’s a saying, the world would be a better place if we would all just talk to each other instead of talking about each other. Honest communication between all parties involved (and everyone else!) ensures everyone is in-sync, there are no assumptions and everyone’s expectations are well aligned. Any form of unease or conflicts are addressed immediately and nothing is left to fester into irreversible catastrophe. Its a fact that assumptions are the mother of all f*%ckups because when we make an assumption, we misunderstand, we take it personally, and then we react by sending unnecessary emotional poison with our word. So make it a point to talk, and talk alot.
2. Schedule it!
Make it official and sacrosanct. If you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen. Trying to juggle time for work, social life, and sports (if you have a family, throw that in for more havoc!) is almost an impossible task. We get caught up with the whirlwinds of our daily lives and our after-hours and weekends are filled with social activities and sports that we are unable (i use the world unable because we have the intention to commit but are unable to) to spend time with our colleagues. So to make sure these conversations take place, schedule it. Make it official in a calendar, make it sacrosanct so that everyone makes time for it and commits to conversation.
3. Care about each other.
People don’t care about what you have to say if you don’t first care about them. We are all humans, to sustain any relationship both personal and professional you have to care about each other. Take the time to get to know each other personally and genuinely care for each other’s wellbeing and progress in life. Take an interest in each other’s lives, hobbies, and family. Open your heart and mind to the differences in our lives. You are gonna be spending a lot of time together and the organisation’s growth is going to need all the partners working hard and more importantly working well together.
4. Go Out
Communicating often and seeing each other often is good. Now get out of the office and go hang out! Spend time with each other out of the office, away from the work environment and work related atmosphere. Get into that social setting and form a bond beyond work. People who get along well together work well together. Find out what your partners and colleagues like to do, discover their interests and you may discover similarities. Make the effort to participate and invite others to join you. Go grab a drink after work together, hang out at a cafe over the weekend, play a sport together, let loose and have fun together!
Understand and appreciate that your partners are in this together with you for the long haul (hopefully your shared your life goals with each other) and each person has their own strengths and weaknesses. Don’t go out on a witch hunt, if you go looking for something you will find it. So if you’re constantly looking for weak points, you will find it and it will create damage. Instead take the effort to look for their strengths and immediately reframe negative incidences into learning sessions rather than issues.
Respecting your partner is also ensuring your partner(s) is in the loop of things, if you ever have any doubt on a decision, don’t assume and ask for their joint approval. Discuss it thoroughly. Respect each other, respect yourself and the organisation enough that you take full responsibility for your actions and admit to faults swiftly and work hard to find amicable solutions. Make sure all parties involved are brought up to speed on any mistakes to ensure everyone is on the same page.
5. The Agreement
We always hear people say ‘get it in writing’. Contracts and agreements are not things to be overlooked and should always be executed by a certified professional. The most important legal document you must have is the SHAREHOLDERS AGREEMENT. You can secure all the biggest contracts, have amazing profits and watch it all disappear if you don’t have this critical but often overlooked document.
No matter how close you think you are with your partner(s) or how amazingly well you get along, there will come in point in life where one’s wants and needs differ, or there will be a time in the organisation’s growth where each may have different opinions and want to move in different directions. These difference in opinions and wants can ultimately cause substantial damage and lead to a painful separation. To ensure there is an amicable end or to prevent such incidences leading to an end, i say we ‘open a can of worms’ right at the beginning. Put everything on the table, every possible scenario is raised, disagree with each other right at the start, discuss ways you think you can rip each other off, discuss how you think you should be remunerated, talk about roles in detail, most importantly talk about when, how a separation should take place, and if it does take place what happens then.
Make sure you get a professional to prepare the shareholder agreement for you and a good lawyer will be able to advise you on everything you need to discuss with your partner(s). The money you have to spend on a shareholders agreement may shock you if you’re just starting up, but trust me though its well worth it. Consider the agony if your organisation reaches the multi million dollar value and theres a disagreement…
We used Teoh Pek Wei (advocates & solicitors) for our shareholders agreement and they continue to provide us legal counsel. I’ve learned alot about Malaysian business law from my friend Mr.Lee Shih one half of The Malaysian Lawyer , follow his blog and The Malaysian Lawyer to gain good insights and guides.
There are many other steps we can take to ensure our business partnership remains in harmony and we can continue to grow and develop along with the team and the organisation. If you have some good pointers from your experience, do share them with us.
the world would be a better place if we would all just talk to each other instead of talking about each other