Jan 16, 2012
by Julie Leutschaft
Question: I owned a printing business with a friend for 13 years. Our relationship ended on a bad note where there was a loss of trust and respect. Our business folded and our friendship ended. That was seven years ago and we haven’t spoken since. We have now been presented with an exciting new business opportunity by a third person that wants to bring us both on board. I really want to do this new business but I am reluctant to get involved again with my ex-business partner. What is your advice about mending fences with old business partners?
Peter S., Bend
To answer your question, you need to do some soul searching and weigh the pros and the cons. You have to ask yourself, is this new business opportunity promising enough to have you work with your old business partner? I used to be of the school of thought that “we are who we are” but I think that can be stretched and people can behave differently in new environments with new surroundings.
I just finished reading the Steve Jobs book and was amazed how many personal relationships Jobs burned in the course of his career. I was also astounded that he was able to repair or finesse those relationships especially with his arch nemesis Bill Gates.
They had a bitter falling out but years later managed to work together successfully which to the onlooker seemed like a relationship that was utterly irreparable. I think if there were aspects of his personality and business acumen that you respect and that are an asset to your work situation, product or service then you may be able to play in the sandbox again.
You’ve most likely learned some lessons along the way and you need to set up healthy boundaries to make sure past hurts don’t resurface. So, yes it is possible to work again in another situation as long as you have both learned from previous experience and the pitfalls to avoid when doing business together so you create a more healthy and respectful working relationship.
Question: We have hired a few people recently that have not worked out due to either personality fit or skill set. These candidates interviewed very well but when they got on the job they were less than stellar and frankly just not the right fit for our culture. In the future, how can we insure we are hiring the right person? Susan T., Redmond
To garner more insurance over hiring the right candidate I suggest you create a hiring team who will review the candidates. Make sure you have a good set of interview questions prepared that focus on the technical aspects of the job but you also want to include some behavioral skill set questions. The advantage of having a team interview candidates is that someone on your team might notice some critical nuance that you overlooked that is important.
Do reference checks and make sure you speak to the candidate’s last boss. What the boss unveils will be very telling about the candidate’s work ethic and cultural fit. If you can get something in writing that is even better. Be leery of the employer who is reluctant to tell you much. Listen to what they don’t say. The best question to ask is, “Is the candidate rehireable?”
Also, you may want to consider doing a criminal background check to see what surfaces. Lastly, as I have said before, you should lean toward candidates who have worked in similar jobs/roles before. The best indicator of future performance is past experience.
Julie Leutschaft, MPA, MHA is the owner of The HUMAN Touch, LLC – Human Resources and Career Counseling firm. Visit us online at www.thehumantouchhr.com.