The first step to creating a successful partnering relationship starts long before a prospective partner comes onto the scene: Know thyself. Today Pam was interviewed on The Small Business Advocate radio show on this topic. However, executives of every size company will benefit from asking the following questions:
• How will an alliance support our long-term vision, mission, and strategy? By starting with the end in mind, you’ll be able to gain a clearer picture of what the ideal partner will look like and what types of partnerships will make the most sense, both in the short-term and in the long-term.
• What level of risk are we willing to take? Are you willing to invest in a speculative venture with a start-up or must your partner be an established leader in the field? How much financial risk are you willing to take? Being explicit about these and other factors helps you better evaluate the promise vs. what could be at stake.
• Who are the stakeholders that could be impacted by an alliance? These could include key suppliers and customers as well as your employees. Anticipating their reactions in advance enables you to smooth the way and minimize any problems that occur.
• Do we have the resources and skilled staff to manage the relationship? Partnering requires a willingness to investing in training, communication, and the monitoring necessary to make the relationship work. Depending upon what is in place, you may need to do some preparation before you’re ready to effectively take on a partner.
• How flexible are we to adapting our policies and procedures? One of the huge advantages of partnerships is the different perspective they bring to the relationship. However, this can be disorienting to some people if the partner’s philosophy and approaches are different than theirs. The clearer you are in advance about what policies and procedures you are and are not willing to adapt, the more likely it is that you’ll find a compatible partner.
Often times a coach can be instrumental in helping you work though these and other questions that impact the success of alliances and other forms of partnerships. If you’re interested in learning more about how we help executives and business owners address issues like these, visit our Coaching Services.