In business there is nothing more important to leadership and organisational success than partnership. While these are often pre-planned, sometimes they can sprout when you least expect it – it’s worth keeping an open mind. I met my co-chief executive on a beach in Thailand. I can safely say that wasn’t in my itinerary when I left.
But as with most things in the world of business, it can be tough to achieve. Bringing people together and then igniting and nurturing a true partnership is a test of leadership and workplace culture. If you’ve ever any doubt of how to cultivate a prosperous partnership, whether for a new venture or in your workplace, follow these key rules and there will be no looking back.
Never underestimate trust
You hear it time and time again, but trust really is vital. Whether between partners in a venture capital fund or co-founders of a business, the trust formed between people is the foundation on which anything and everything is built. A shaky foundation – perhaps more than any other factor – will stunt growth and prevent you from fulfilling your potential.
That’s the limit
No partnership is about being best friends from day one. As with any colleague, go slow at first with personal questions. Some people will happily let it all hang out and talk about life beyond the office freely, while others like to keep their private life private. While close friendships can form over time, always focus on the work first – then you can’t go wrong.
Set your direction
Avoid having different goals. There’s nothing worse than working towards a project with different objectives in your mind. This will only lead to disappointment. It could also cost the business dearly, with performance suffering and employees left confused.
Delegate when needed
While leaders delegate down the chain of command, it is also vital that partners do not step on each other’s toes. A project or business will run more efficiently and smoothly if those at the helm decide together on where their strengths and weaknesses lie, and then delegate responsibility for different aspects. Board and management meetings are then the ideal place to discuss progress in each person’s area of responsibility.
The right atmosphere
The right setting is particularly pertinent for those starting a business. Working from a bedroom or a living room might be a good starting point, but as soon as you can, find a space that works for you and fosters the spirit of your company.
But always, the key to working well together is working in an open, well-designed work environment that isn’t intimidating but allows everybody to feel comfortable. Sharing a room and sharing space will lead to regular and constant communication and exchanging of ideas.
If you’re looking to foster a new partnership, try a shared workspace or co-working space. They offer great environments to facilitate new partnerships as they attract like-minded individuals and businesses because they want to be part of an entrepreneurial community. Shared workspaces have become hubs not only to work in but also as somewhere to network and create partnerships.