Don’t most of us have a ‘type’ when it comes to romantic partners?
So what about our professional partners? If we have a choice in the matter, do we return to the same individuals if possible? And if we do, what are we gaining? Would we be better off to shake things up, just as we might after the end of a personal relationship?
In an interesting read, Inc. offers us a look at entrepreneurs who repeatedly choose the same partners. In “The Secret to Happy Partnerships,” the premise explored is this:
… what are the circumstances that lead people to want to team up again and again?
Finding the Right “Fit”
Thinking back on my career, I realize that I was often brought into a new organization by someone with whom I had worked elsewhere. Knowing me personally meant they were well aware of my skills, and time to adjust to a new situation was likely to be minimal.
As an independent consultant, I have been on the other side; I have initiated partnerships in order to deliver a variety of services. When I find someone with great skills and we build a solid working relationship, we’re likely to pair up again. The learning curve is practically non-existent, we have a proven and established working rhythm, and there is comfort in what is known – especially under pressing time constraints.
We don’t need to share personality or skills, but we must share the same commitment to the highest possible standards and also, clear communication.
One other non-negotiable that comes to mind? Trust.
In fact, I’m likely to go to the same set of resources over and over, unless I’ve experienced a problem or find I need a different sort of talent.
Feeling Tied Down?
These words also caught my attention, for their dual applicability to both home life and work life:
Relationships, including professional partnerships, often begin because two (or more) individuals who work in the same place see one another often and have a lot in common…
I realize that early in my career I looked purely for commonalities – the “fit” of other people, of the position itself, of the organization – to the extent that I was able to find what I thought I needed. It took a few years to understand that what is complementary adds value and also helps us grow – much the same as in personal relationships.
Generally I’ve been fortunate in both projects and employment experiences. I’ve been able to team up with people and companies with similar commitment to superior quality, clear communication, and mutual trust.
What didn’t work?
When I wasn’t challenged, when everything came too much by rote, when boredom was nibbling at the edges of my job, then I felt tied down – creatively and intellectually stifled.
But I will say that life events can change this equation – if you find yourself dealing with family issues, if you’re suddenly a solo parent, if your attentions are divided or your priorities shift.
Familiarity? You want it. You need it.
And in the romance department, is it really so different?
Addressing some of the issues I’ve just mentioned, the Inc. article describes those who stay in partnerships as a result of:
… “tie inertia,” which is essentially a tendency to stay with what is known out of a sense of familiarity and commitment. This sense of obligation is strengthened if the people have invested a great deal of time and other resources in the partnership.
This is certainly what I have experienced over the years, as loyalty kicks in along with knowledge of others’ skills, experience, and the efficiency with which things move along. You know what you have and you know what you’ll get. In some respects, it’s like a long, comfortable, well-oiled marriage.
And this is where I would say the personal and professional diverge dramatically. Those who exit the family unit out of boredom may leave terrible damage in their wake – less so when there are no children. Those who leave a state of professional inertia, especially as creatives or entrepreneurs, may risk their livelihood, but not the future of those who depend on them.
Is what I just said overly simplistic? Of course. Nothing about relationships is that cut and dry.
Is my opinion also a reflection of my particular bias, values, and experience? You bet.
I resist inertia creatively and intellectually, but after years of shifting sands logistically, certain ties that bind would be most welcome.
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