Business Conflicts and How to Solve Them
Is The Entrepreneurial Life Pain-Free?
You already know the answer. Our Lord asked us to take up our cross daily.
The entrepreneurial life is good indeed. Not only because of the dignity of work.
You are independent. You call your own shots. You set your own plan. You perhaps work from home. You live your Catholic principles. You resist the culture.
But there is sometimes pain.
Last week I worked with business partners in a very difficult situation.
In that particular business, the ability to communicate has pretty well disappeared.
The owners find it hard to have an ordinary conversation without experiencing hurt and pain. They are losing trust in each other. Their feelings govern their perceptions. They find it almost impossible to focus objectively on real business issues. They are suspicious of motive. Every interaction leads to more distrust.
What started out in an atmosphere of excitement and promise has turned into a stalemate. Routine decisions are stalled. They feel like they are trapped. They are too far in to quit. They are burned out and exhausted. They are plain worn out.
I first did a 1-2-1 private interview with each one individually. Then I applied a Plus Delta system we developed a few years ago. We discuss the pluses – all the positives, the things that work well, methods that yield good results and that contribute positively. We also discuss the deltas – all the negatives, the things that don’t work well, that should be discarded, that should be changed (don’t forget: delta is the mathematical symbol for change), or that don’t contribute positively to the situation.
People tell me things in a confessional-like manner that they would never tell another person. It’s a grace, and certainly not from something I’ve invented.
In response, I use the years of experience consulting dozens of leaders. I also sense sometimes the Holy Spirit or St. Joseph helping me to draw the conclusion about what should be done and how to solve the matter at hand.
I wrote a couple of pages of bullet point notes and drew conclusions. I could see that they didn’t have job descriptions (not even for themselves). Of course it becomes evident that this is a real problem. I mean, how do you hold each other accountable?
How do you even know who is doing what? How can you avoid stepping on each other’s toes?
The trickiest part was the joint meeting where I reported to them my findings and ideas.
One thing I said regarding this whole burnout and stress thing was that for one month their new rule is that they don’t ever talk about feelings. They just talk ONLY about business matters. They focus only on the basic business issues I identified and to which they agreed.
Now, I did not tell them that they should forget feelings of hurt, disrespect, disappointment and frustration. Of course not. But I advised them to summon up all their business smarts and sharp business brains and focus for one month on ONLY the business matters.
WE also discussed a style of communication, of informing each other, of regularly scheduled meetings with strict agendas and metrics so that it is evident, one to the other, what the performance results are. I proposed ways to state matters and how to ask questions in a non-accusatory tone. And so on.
We went back to the basics.
I am speaking here of a situation of people who have joined forces in a very nice little business for which they share a passion and original excitement.
Can it be fixed?
The business can. There is nothing really wrong with it.
But it will take a lot of good will to learn to trust each other.
I am not a counselor. Yet I can tell you that for all these years of work behind me I can see that the pursuit of Catholic virtue is the only answer. If only we could set aside our egos. If only we could see it from the other’s perspective. If only we could trust. If only we could listen instead of talking.
God bless you, your family, and your works. You can be Catholic and successful in business. Believe it.