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5 Steps to Creating Partnership ‘LIKE’ Relationships in Business

Some years ago I was asked to develop a program called Creating Partnership ‘Like’ Relationships for an information technology company’s business environment. It was an interestingCreating Partnership 'Like'Relationships request. You see they had the perfect stakeholder triangle storm. Well that is what I called it.

Stakeholder triangles are used to understand one-to-one relationships that exist among stakeholder groups (See SET for Success by Richard Lannon Page 44). A simple triangle might include the client-employees, the recruiter and independent contractor. There are three one-to-one relationships; client-employee to recruiter, recruiter to independent contractor, independent contractor to client-employee. The challenge is that all these people need to partner to get things done for the company, the ultimate client. However, sometimes it becomes a bit of a mixed bag of challenges as you get independent-contractors leading or managing client-employees or as recruiters try to influence independent contractors inappropriately. Not saying it happens, but what if.

The idea behind creating partnership like relationships is to get everyone going in the same direction, playing by the same rules and recognizing that the work that needed to be done is not about who is in charge and where they came from but about team work and partnership for the success of everyone.

So here are 5 steps to create partnership like relationships in complex business environments that have mixed stakeholder needs and responsibilities.

You must have a shared vision. I know I write about vision a lot. You would be amazed how many people in business have no idea why they are doing what they are doing. Even further, the number of people who think having a vision of success is stupid. But ask those same people what they will be doing when they retire 10 or 15 years from now and they will tell you a mouth full. In order for complex teams to work there has to be a shared vision of success. People need to understand what and why of the doing and the clear outcome, the visual. That means employee, recruiter and contractor need to be in the same car, on the same road, driving in the same direction and heading for the same destination.

Making sure things are mutually beneficial. I know it sounds like common sense. In my experience all sides need to gain something from the relationships being fostered. I like to think of it as the 3Ws or the Triple Play. That is win, win, win for all stakeholders. We can’t afford to exist any longer in a win/lose scenario. Business is way too complicated. In our example we would need to create wins for the client-employees, the recruiter and independent contractor. Those wins need to be discussed and agreed to.

Know when to walk away. When I first started my career my mentor told me that to make a deal you need to be willing to walk. That was a hard lesson to learn as a young man. It took years to learn. Even in partnership ‘like’ relationships you need to be willing to walk away if things are not working out. I am not talking about quitting or as a tactical negotiation maneuver. I believe there are times in life that you need to walk away and accept it is time to walk away. It could be you are going down the wrong road and you need to take a detour or maybe the relationship situation is just not right, can’t be fixed and it is time to move on. Some of the best respect and partnerships are forged by knowing when to walk away.

Listen to what people need and give it to them. Some of the best leaders in the world, Richard Branson, Bill Clinton, have an innate ability to listen to people and then break down barriers so that they are successful. If you can help people be successful you will more likely be able to create stronger bonds and partnerships. It is a skill that can be learned, practiced and auctioned. When working with your teams see if you heard their needs. Ask, out loud, what we can do to solve this issue. Let the person tell you. Discuss the possible actions that can be taken. See if there is a create barrier crusting response. Move forward.

Write things down. I know simple right. Well a lot of people do not write down what they agree to do or not do. Unfortunately people remember things their way. Writing things down and distributing notes or understanding helps ensure that you are on track and that people have come to agreement as to what the partnership obligation looks like whether it is a tactical or operational obligation or something a bit deeper legally. The point is to go past what you think you heard and capture what you agreed to do. If that means that it was agreed that an independent contractor is leading client employees, then it needs to be in writing and agreed to.

Creating partnership like relationships is very important in the business and leadership world. I think at times we can become limited by perceived circumstances or beliefs. When working with complex teams it is important that we find ways to travel a road together, one where we can help one another. Not one about that is mine and get out of my turf.

Recently I was reminded of this by a young entrepreneur who openly shared his idea with his competition only to find that the competition helped him more in the right direction. They created a partnership like relationship where it was mutually beneficial for both parties. I think the same premise applies internally in organizations. You need to find ways to work together. Good luck.

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