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A lot of times, you find that you are starting a project, or working on a business, and start to think, “Hmmm, my partner’s not doing as much work as I am”. That is one of the most destructive thoughts you can have in any kind of group or business relationship. However, you don’t have to let this thought destroy your relationship or the product!
First, let’s see what happens when you react negatively to this thought. Maybe you first start by speaking to your partner about it. You can say it directly (and non-tactfully), such as “Jim, I feel like I’m doing more work than you are. Can you please pick up the slack?” Or a little more tactful and more indirectly, “Hey Jim, I’m a little swamped right now, do you think you can take care of xyz?”
This is inevitably the start of the downfall of your business. The indirect “push” might work well for a while, but it will eventually turn into a direct confrontation, because the underlying problem isn’t solved. When you make these statements, your partner either feels like he’s already doing the best he can, or he doesn’t. If he does, he’d be somewhat annoyed, as he would feel like you’re making him do extra work, and would start feeling EXACTLY the same way that you’ve been feeling. He’d probably react to you the same way you reacted to him, so work just gets shoved around, undone. If he doesn’t, then there must’ve been a reason he wasn’t working hard to begin with. Maybe he feels unmotivated, or doesn’t like you. What happens when you tell him to do more work? He might do it, but now feels kind of pressured. Instead of being your partner, he’ll start feeling like he’s your employee. He’ll also be scared. Afraid to take his time doing stuff because he needs to get stuff done faster. Afraid to make mistakes because you’ll be down his throat yelling at him. Afraid of asking questions because he doesn’t want to come off as stupid and incompetent. That adds up to a lot of bad work being done by your partner, which might need to be redone, and cause you a loss of money. That makes the situation worse, and the cycle starts over. In both of these situations, you end up with no partner and a mediocre product that you had to produce all by yourself (unless you did a ton of extra work) or maybe even no working product at all.
Aside from the crappy product, there’s no way you’ll ever be able to scale your activities. If you want to accomplish something, you’ll need people to help you. Where there’s people, there will be people who are worse than you, especially if you’re very competent. You’ll need their help. There’s only so much you can accomplish on your own.
So how should you react? Well, here’s a couple of things to keep in mind:
You need your partner - First, realize that the two of you can accomplish more together than you can alone. Sure your partner may not be able to contribute as much as you, but he can contribute something right? All you need to do is figure out how to best utilize the work your partner is putting in. That way, even though he’s doing less than you, at least you don’t have to do 100% of the work. Better to only have to do 80% of the work than 100-110% (in case you scrap your partner’s work and start over or something)
Your partner is probably doing more than you think - Your partner probably doesn’t tell you every little thing that he does. Maybe he fixed a bunch of stuff and didn’t tell you because he didn’t want to bother you. Maybe he’s been thinking about the problem all day even though he hasn’t done any actual work. Just assume he’s contributing to the best of his ability (afterall, why wouldn’t he?) and keep thinking about how you can improve the product. Afterall, what does it gain you to figure out that he isn’t doing as much as you? You waste time, you get pissed off, and you don’t get anything accomplished.
When 33%+67% = 300% - The most important thing is that the two of you probably have complementing skillsets that creates more value than just the sum of your individual skillsets. For example, let’s say you would earn $100 working on a project alone. Suddenly, you think of a way to double your revenues. Now you’re making $200, $100 extra. On your partner’s side, he’s also thinking up ideas, but he’s not as smart as you. He only thinks of a way to increase profits by 1.5 times; Except … it’s a different idea. Alone, he would be making $150, $50 extra. Together, the two of you would be making $300, $200 extra. Just by working together, you’ve created an extra $50 of gains that wouldn’t have been available to either of you alone.
This is the main value of working in a group. People have different skillsets, and together, they compound. 50% improvements from 10 different people in separate areas result in a 5667% increase in productivity! The value of getting that one extra new idea is so high.
Just forget about who’s doing more work. Who’s to say your 100% improvement is better than his 50% improvement? Together, you gain that extra $50. Apart, you don’t. You need both people equally in order to make the relationship work, and as such, you are both equally important. It’s a strange concept that you can put in twice the effort as your partner and still be equally important as your partner, but it’s clearly true here. You need him/her as much as he/she needs you.
The value of your partner’s contributions is not always clear - Maybe you spent all day doing an assignment, and he/she spent all day walking around occasionally thinking about it. Sure seems like you did more work. Then again, what if he/she came up with an idea during that time and improved your project by 1000%? Or maybe he/she talking to your client nicely got you the deal. Yeah, that 2 seconds would’ve been just as important as the 50 hours of hard work you put in. It’s not always clear just how much of each person’s contributions actually affected the final result. Who knows, he/she might be doing more “work” than you are even though you’re working harder and longer.
So taking all of these into account, it’s much harder to get mad at your partner. You don’t even know if they’re contributing less than you, and if they are, you know that you’re still probably better off with them helping. Besides, they probably work differently than you, so why not just let them work their way? Afterall, you probably respected something in that person to have picked them as your associate/partner. You may not understand how they work or why they do what they do, but you’ve seen their results. They’re capable people, so they’ve obviously gotten it done somehow in the past. Just leave them alone and be there to help them if they need it.
Worst comes to worst, you do the whole thing, and they watch you and do nothing. How is that any worse than you having to do it all alone? Besides, if they see that you’re having fun doing the work, even if they originally had no intention of helping, maybe they’ll start thinking “Hmm, I kindda want to join in”, or “I feel bad that my partner’s doing all the work.”
Work hard, have fun, and people will want to join you! Just do the best you can, and let them contribute the best they can.
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