I know that I’ve spoken of this before and I hate that I am writing about it again, but if I just had this situation chances are that many of my readers are struggling with something similar as well. I have a colleague that I worked with and the relationship crashed and burned. To me it was a part of business, while we did not work well together I didn’t see it as anything particularly catastrophic. I chalked it up to learning a little bit more about my personal and professional boundaries. He did not feel that way, so here is what I have learned about bitter breakups in the professional arena.
Understand your partnership
I have learned after six months, that part of the problem was that my colleague didn’t understand my professional boundaries. While I was working as a sub for him, I was not his employee. As such the tone of communication should have been on an equal footing and it was not. I have since learned how to deal with difficult people. Even though the experience ended negatively, I learned a lot about what I needed to have a successful partnership.
Mediate before problems
By the time our partnership started to disintegrate, I was no longing able to communicate effectively. My emails were dismissed, our conversations were non-existent and in essence when I was present I was not present. I’ve learned that you cannot be reactive to challenging relationships, you have to proactive in the sense that you have to constantly take the temperature of the relationship. You have to check in with what isn’t working just as often as you check in with what is. As soon as something makes you uncomfortable, address it. Notice I didn’t say mention it. Address it as in, this situation is not working for me because….
Adjust your expectations
This one is for the company hiring. Remember that when you hire another company, you are hiring a vendor. You cannot tell the vendor when to report to work, where they are allowed to work and how to complete the job. You can give your requirements and what the end product is expected to be, but anything further and that vendor is no longer a contractor. They are your employee.
No Trash Talking, ever
I’ve found out through the industry grape line, that this guy is slamming me professionally and the sources have then given me some not so flattering information. There really is not any way to combat bad behavior, professional or otherwise. The only thing that you can do is monitor your behavior. My clients and my other colleagues are well aware of the quality of my work and my personality. So I have no need to respond with anything other than, ‘sometimes partnerships don’t work. It happens and I have no need to disparage his character or his work’. As I see the situation unfolding, I can say that I am glad that I have grown enough professionally to understand that you can’t have positive outcomes with negative actions.
So professional growth is hard, but I think that if you look for the lesson in every situation it can become everything you hoped it would be. I am building an empire and that means that there will be bumps along the road, but if it’s easy who wants to do it?