Very few relationships succeed without first agreeing on values. Values, grounded in some sort of moral code, are the foundation of every relationship- business, marriage, friendship, or partnership.

Almost every organization or business depends on partnerships, grants, and the strengths of others to reach their goals for growth. Your business will never thrive if you have determined that you own a monopoly. And to be honest, I have seen businesses and organizations lose their reputation over their unwillingness to work well with others- both internally and externally. Teamwork and partnerships help you fill in the gaps of talent that exists on your team, bring in an entirely different perspective and audience as well as help you make a much larger impact. Together is always better, right?

Right. Unless the two disagree on the foundational values that you both represent. Values are the bedrock of our intentions, the “why” behind our mission, and the measuring stick we must use behind almost every decision we make. Your values are deep seeded determinations and definitions of the most important things in your life. In your personal life, your values of loyalty, being a person of your word, worth ethic, definition of family, honesty, and so many more are what solidify the bond you have in marriage and friendships.

Would you allow a neighbor to watch your children without first discussing the rules within their home? Would you jump into marriage without first talking about what loyalty means to you?

And yet, businesses partner with other businesses all the time over the idea of working together or the excitement about a project- without ever having a discussion about shared or unshared values.

Here are a few common values worth pausing whatever networking or project you have started in order get on the same page:

  1. Faith and Spirituality: If your faith determines how you run your business and conversations with that partner could involve faith, it is very important to share what you believe with that partner. They may not share the same faith system, or simply not expect faith to come up in discussions.
  2. Work ethic: Does your team work until the job is done even if it means overtime? Does your team have an expectation that everyone must be prepared to deliver their best? Every business is unique in their expectations- having an open conversation ahead of time removes assumptions and sets the tone of the relationship.
  3. Transparency: How do you want to handle the partnership when you disagree? Every relationship, even business relationships, will eventually disagree on something. Setting the expectation that transparency and talking about differences of opinion or values up front can make for a more trusting relationship with minimal paranoia.
  4. Loyalty: Just like in a marriage, business relationships must have an open conversation about what loyalty means to both sides. Hard to believe you might have different opinions on that, right? The project you are working on together may be something you want to be an exclusive project or product that isn’t shared with others. What if your partnering business would rather you talk with them first before partnering on a different project with someone else? Although your business has autonomy, loyalty still impacts relationships in various ways.

There are lots of other values that are the foundation of your “Why”. What are they? How do they feed your mission statement? Do you talk about those regularly with your team? Do you bring those up in interviews with potential employees? Values are the foundation of everything we do. What conversations do you need to start today?