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Balancing a Personal and Business Relationship

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My spouse is considering leaving her job to come work in the shop. What do we need to do to have a professional relationship in the workplace while maintaining a personal relationship at home?   

Tim Shepelak, owner The Growth Coach, Cincinnati, Ohio:

In a nutshell, the principles of developing a professional relationship with your spouse are really not much different than for other employees. It involves setting clear expectations, having accountability and maintaining solid communication. It’s also important to anticipate and address any issues that arise in a professional manner. 

There are a few things you can do to make that happen:

• Share clear, mutual expectations on things, such as how you will work together, what needs each of you have, and how you will treat each other in the workplace that will be effective for you and your employees. If there are going to be any differences in treatment—compared to other  employees—agree to that up front and define how that will be played out in an effective manner for the business. It is important that your spouse understands they will be held accountable for  performance, just like any other employee. 

• Define roles, responsibilities and performance standards. 

• Set clear boundaries between business and  life. For example, at closing time, avoid talking about work outside of pre-established times.

• Treat each other as you want to be treated. Be respectful regarding your spouse’s communication preferences, work-life balance needs and career aspirations. 

• Agree to address issues as soon as possible. Your business could suffer if a rift develops between family members.

To ensure this happens, it’s a good idea to pre-schedule periodic meetings with your spouse. That gives you an opportunity to discuss and address concerns of either party, assess what is going well and what is not going well, and agree on any solutions or adjustments that need to be made.

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