We need to develop partnering relationships in business all the time; whether it be joint ventures or strategic alliances, selling through distributor partners or partnering with your suppliers. The more effective we are in building these relationships, the more benefit we will get from the partnership, particularly in creating business growth. Follow these communication tips and you will get a lot more value from your partnering arrangements.
- Formalise mutually agreed goals. It is important to establish and mutually agree the goals for each partner and the partnership at the beginning. That is ‘what does everyone want?’ This ensures everyone knows where they stand and what value is to be delivered to each party. Also ensure that individual goals do not conflict with each other and that the joint goal provides a strategic advantage to each party. Document your agreement as a stake in the ground so you can refer to it when necessary.
- Deliver win-win value. All business relationships are based on achieving objectives that benefit the business on both sides. Once you have defined the objectives, monitor the partnership’s progress to ensure everyone is getting what they want from it. Make sure you deliver the value as agreed and that no-one is benefiting at the expense of the other party.
- Make communication a two-way exercise. Relationships are based on two people interacting and communicating. Both people need to want to be in the relationship and also to want to communicate. If only one person wants the relationship then it is called “stalking”. So be clear that you both want the partnership and keep the two-way communication occurring on a regular and ongoing basis.
- Resolve conflict when it occurs. Never leave it to fester like an infected sore. Always meet, face to face if you can, to discuss what is happening and why you aren’t happy about it. The quicker you discuss it, the sooner it can be resolved so it does not degenerate the partnership. You may be anxious about such a conversation, so just be true to what is right for you and stay open to possible resolutions. It will be easier than you think.
- Jointly plan the activities. Get together to brain storm, discuss and document a written plan of who is doing what in the partnership. Then make sure you review and extend it quarterly, at least. This creates clarity in the partnership and defines the responsibilities. It will prevent a lot of conflict and therefore save you from the difficult conversations. If conflict does occur, documented goals, objectives and plans make it much easier to resolve the problem. Also together you can achieve much more than on your own – and isn’t that why you partner in business in the first place.
Good communication is critical in business partnerships because without it you do not have a relationship and you do not have any boundaries to define the partnership. So whenever you are working with anyone in your business, follow these tips and you will find the business progresses a lot more easily. Good luck with your partnerships. By the way, you can try applying these to your intimate partnership too and see what a difference it makes.
Janeen is the founder of Get Real Communication and an international speaker, coach and facilitator who is passionate about how people communicate and relate to each other in all relationships – both business and personal. For the last 20 years Janeen has been facilitating hands-on workshops with some of the world’s leading companies (such as Cisco, HP, Oracle and Microsoft) in over 10 countries around Asia-Pacific, the UK and the USA helping them improve their communication, relationships and profits. Janeen is available for business and relationship coaching.
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