In today’s business environment, most organizations rely heavily on the expertise of external business partners. A typical business has multiple external partnerships operating simultaneously, such as: IT Consultants, Accounting Firms, Training Organizations, Vendors, Suppliers, Customers, etc. Managing external partnerships successfully requires commitment at all levels of the organization to plan carefully, communicate openly, follow through, and provide a profitable outcome for each partner.
Like any relationship, successful external partnerships evolve over a period of time into higher levels of trust and accomplishment. Part of managing external partnerships involves successfully guiding the relationship to the next level. There are five dynamics to achieving a successful partnership.
Ideally, external partnerships are formed through comprehensive needs analysis and a selection process that balances emotional and logical factors. In the formation process, you assess the required experience and knowledge of the external partner, and the perceived chemistry that exists between your values and theirs. In this initial stage, everyone in the partnership gets to know each other and learns how to work together as a team.
Nothing ensures the success of an external partnership more than careful, thorough planning. This is a collective process with your external partners to bring everyone’s expertise into the design of the team effort. In this step of partnership development, the goal is that all members grow in terms of their respect and understanding of each other, and in mutual understanding of the desired outcomes.
As the teams move beyond the initial stages into performing as a partnership, everyone’s vision becomes more unified. Relationships smooth out as you learn how to approach and engage one another. A sense of accomplishment begins to set in as you see the partnership effort unfolding as planned.
As the partnership accumulates successes, people see that the synergy of their talents and effort is working. They begin to take pride in their joint accomplishments and have a greater sense of the importance of their endeavor. People engage each other with an attitude of confidence and mutual trust.
In this stage, the partners are operating at an ongoing high level of cooperation and mutual understanding. The partnership is functioning at its greatest level of efficiency and collaboration. The likelihood that this external partnership will endure is very high.