The company was doing well, customers were coming in, and everything looked great right up to the point where the partners split up and closed the doors. Another business failure for the books but what went wrong? About two thirds of partnerships break up within five years even if the business is doing well. And it’s even worse when there are problems.
How partners handle their differences is vital. The good and bad news about partnerships is that they are like marriages. They are very intimate relationships that must, by virtue of human nature, have some degree of conflict. People are different. The bad news is that the differences lead to divorce. The good news is that the very same differences can be the ticket to success. When partners realize that their differences are important and learn how to build on them, they can behave in a synergistic manner rather than falling into unresolved conflict. If the partners were identical in their interest, skills, opinions, and thinking, one of them would be redundant. Organizations, including partnerships, need the balance that comes from diversity.
The dark side of diversity often leads to conflict. This is especially true when something goes wrong in the business and tensions are high. Feelings get hurt and the partners tend to move apart and argue rather than to cooperate. The organization suffers as interpersonal issues divert energy from solving problems and getting the job done. In these cases troubled partnerships can often benefit by bringing in outside professionals who are skilled in problem analysis and problem solving. Professionals can help the partners address the outstanding issues, find their common ground, accept their differences, and create an acceptable working arrangement.
Problem-Solving methods can help a great deal in difficult situations. Use the process to defuse and avoid interpersonal conflict. Focus on the problem rather than positions and personalities.
“Quarrels would not last long if the fault were only on one side.”
La Rochefoucauld, Maxims
Check out the article Problem Solving – 3 step guide.