Whether or not you and your spouse work together, the clearer you are about what each of you is responsible for, the better your relationship will be.
In my work with business owners and as a facilitator of Remodelers Advantage Roundtable peer group meetings, I see some of the same issues pop up, over and over again. A company that does not have roles clearly defined is constantly dealing with mistakes and frustrations, with profits lower than planned, and with unhappy clients.
Getting clear about roles and boundaries is especially important if you and your spouse work together. Absent that clarity, there can be very unpleasant disagreements occurring in front of your staff. Everyone feels frustrated, embarrassed, and demotivated.
What are some steps to take to get as clear as you need to be? Here are a couple of them.
Respect the Organization Chart
The hierarchy that is laid out in a good organization chart shows who is responsible for what and who each position respectively reports to. That is a great place to start.
Where it comes to life is when something needs to be decided. Here is an example:
A lead carpenter comes into the office and asks the head of administration if they can have a week’s vacation at a particular time. The head of administration must tell the lead carpenter to first talk to the production manager about this question because that person is the manager of the production department.
By keeping the organization chart front and center at all times, it is less likely that “approvals” will get made without the right people being in the loop. The result is less frustration and more success.
Responsibilities Laid Out Clearly
In a small company, it is not unusual for the owner(s) to fill more than one position. Those positions should all be laid out on the organization chart.
Each of those positions should have a clear set of activities and results the position is responsible for. This is particularly important when spouses are working together. Why? Because one spouse might, with good intentions, overstep their boundaries without the knowledge of the spouse who is actually responsible for getting that activity or thing done. The result is confusion and frustration.
The other reason is to eventually be able to hire employees to do what the owners don’t want to be doing. With role clarity and clear understanding of a position’s activities and results, it is easier for a company to hire the right person.
Find the Perfect Balance
Finding balance between work and home life is difficult for many of us. It is especially important to do this when a couple works together in their own business. Finding balance when being committed to your spouse, your family, and your business often feels impossible.
How to make it more possible? Here are some suggestions to try.
A couple working together is often comprised of a crazy entrepreneur spouse and a supporting spouse. The crazy entrepreneur needs a limit on the maximum number of hours worked a week and the supporting spouse often benefits from setting a minimum number of hours worked a week.
These limits help the family and the business get the attention they need. Constructing limits on the number of hours is hard. After all, there is so much to do, right?
Try this: Make believe your doctor is talking to you after you’ve had a heart attack. She tells you that your body can only handle working eight hours a day, five days a week, with a clear disconnect from work outside those hours.
What would you do? Work more hours and die? Or follow her instructions on the 40-hour work week? Your choice.
Why wait for this circumstance to occur to set a limit on the number of hours you will give the business?
Practice Saying “No”
I’m not sure if the following has happened to you before: You and your spouse have busted your buns making the impossible happen, yet again. You are both so tired and all you want to do is zone out.
A friend calls and asks “Can you help me move out of my apartment tomorrow?”
You have a truck, you have helped other friends, and every time you did it you regretted having said you would!
Try saying “No.” “No, I am sorry. We’re completely beat. Who else can you call?”
We had to learn how to do that. What kind of life is it if you can’t define your own limits? A work-life balance is hard to achieve. It is a journey, not a destination.
The fact is that taking care of yourselves makes you better business owners and better family member. You, your spouse, your family, your employees, and your clients deserve that.
It takes personal discipline to stay within one’s boundaries. That does not come natural to everyone, but it can be learned. How do I know? Nina and I learned how to do this! Doing so took time, effort, and discussions about role clarity, all of which paid off in the long run.