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When you work with your partner, who is the boss?

Last week Chris received this email:

‘Many thanks, Chris you have been incredibly helpful in all respects. I very much appreciate your time, your very helpful manner on the phone, the care that you have taken to look into these issues for me in a short period of time and your very kind offers which enabled me to have some idea of what a product is and whether it is likely to be helpful. This helped me to decide whether to purchase it, rather than simply selling something that ultimately would not have been of that much use. I have been really impressed – and please feel free to forward this e-mail to your head of department / line manager simply to demonstrate, from me, that you are doing a good job!’

Do I deserve a bonus?!

And then he sent it to me!

That’s great feedback and I’m very proud of my keen and diligent husband! But still, what the hell am I supposed to do with it?

So this got me thinking- when your personal relationship and your work relationship merge into one, how do you manage normal work stuff like performance reviews? How do you tackle the issue of bonuses (avoiding the obvious recourse to sexual innuendo?) What happens when one of you just isn’t up to scratch?

I’ve been out of the traditional job market long enough that I’m pretty self reliant; I don’t need much praise or recognition to get me though my day. I do know that this isn’t true of everyone, and a lack of perceived recognition can be damaging to work relationships. With conflicts like this it’s really tricky to get it right; even if you think you are showing how much you value a contribution, it may not be perceived that way. For instance, leaving others to their own devices may seem to you like a demonstration of trust, but look like disinterest to those on the other side of the fence.

Which leads me back to what to do to recognise Chris’ hard work and achievements, that won’t seem patronising, or worse, vaguely seedy, and that will divert any potential ‘you don’t appreciate me’ meltdowns.

A new snowboard has been the only bonus so far!

I think the fact we go away so much has a big hand in mediating any negative effects of being in business together. If you aren’t sure whether your relationship/ business could withstand long months out of the country, trust me, it might just be your saving grace. When our work performance starts to suffer, we know that we are just getting rusty and it’s time for a change of scene. When we start to feel stale and uninspired, we know that waking to the sounds of the ocean or conquering the slopes on a snowboard will sort us out in a heartbeat.

So that’s what works for us, but I’m also mindful that most people need to feel acknowledged. So any suggestions on how to respond to Chris’ adorable puffed up chest and ‘haven’t I done well’ grin would be gratefully received

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4 Responses to “When you work with your partner, who is the boss?”

  1. Good post. A lot of what you say rings true for me, even as someone who ‘travels’ to the office every day. The ‘leave someone to own devices as show of trust’ vs ‘why doesn’t my boss care about me’ is something I see a lot. I think the boss has a responsibilty to check in on a semi-regular basis just to show an interest but also the non-boss should sometimes stop whinging and talk to the boss if they are wanting some recognition or advice.

    As for Chris, give him a biscuit? Although as a bloke I wouldn’t be too quick to discount the seedy options.

    Love the new site guys,


    • Hi Paul, sorry the delay but thanks for the comment and thoughts. It is a tricky balance, I’m sure you do wonderfully as the boss (you’ll know for sure though if you get bought pints after work..or even invited?)
      Glad you like the site
      han x

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  2. Such a great question. The wife and I have been traveling for only 4 months but are trying to make this lifestyle permanent by starting a biz on the road. Half of the early planning is trying to keep both the professional and personal relationship strong. Definitely a learning curve though!

    And Paul, feel free to suggest the seedier options… I just hope your ego can withstand the nonstop laughter.
    Tony recently posted..Fried Mackerel in Croatia – Foodgasmic Tales From The Road

    • Hi Tony, great to hear about your new adventure. It seems to work well if you really enjoy what you do, so what other people might class as constant work conversations actually seem like fun from your perspective! Not sure how good that makes you as company around other people though..! Btw, I’m not sure you guys need any encouragement on those risqué suggestions (the ones that would have you facing a tribunal in the real world!) Hannah

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