Testing Your Partnership Fit

If you are considering a merger or acquisition, or hiring with an eye toward an internal succession plan, your fit as partners will matter more than any other factor when it comes to the success of your practice. In fact, San-Francisco-based Funders and Founders estimates that 62% of merger failure is due to partnership conflict.

“Fit” can take into account lots of elements of compatibility; we’ll use it here to mean skills, behaviors and motivations. Most are looking for someone with complementary skills; someone with strengths in areas where they feel less capable. Ideally, you want the mix to result in a partnership where what you are getting is clearly worth the additional complexity and loss of autonomy of a partnership. Too often prospective partners think they know what they’re getting only to find that the reality of working together is far removed from the vision.

So how can you better identify potential problems and address them before they threaten to derail your growth plans?

One way to assess how you fit together is using psychometric testing that includes behavior and motivation assessments. In fact in our recent research we found that doing early assessments as is a differentiator in successful partnerships. We use a version of DISC assessments for this. Often partner conflict comes in the form of unmet expectations, “I thought he could bring in a lot of business but their pace in making contacts is frustratingly slow.” Or, “She has a great rapport with clients and contacts but are entirely disruptive to staff and disregards even the most basic procedures.” Assessments identify these disconnects very effectively, especially when mapped with other partners and in conjunction with the more subjective, ongoing range of meetings that prospective partners need to have. They often help to identify and describe a gnawing discomfort that has come up in conversations.

All of these are issues of communication that can likely be remedied with clear approaches to communication and awareness of the tradeoffs you are making. It can take some time to see the monetary benefits of partnerships. It can be very frustrating when partnership benefits don’t materialize quickly, but the complications do.