Think you're cut out for business partnering?


“There comes a time in almost any business partnership when people look at each other and think, do I really want to stay and make this work? Or should we just file for divorce now?!”

So many business partnering projects start out with a warm handshake, a cup of coffee or an excited conversation. In a rose-tinted glow of optimism, products are planned, talented people hired, websites published and upbeat business plans drafted. Fast forward 12-24 months and many of those well-intended partnerships have stalled, failed or are in serious conflict. How many of the following failure points have you witnessed?

* Key players disappear when the going gets tough;

* Financial or legal showstoppers land just before critical milestones;

* A key talent leaves with no obvious successor;

* No buy-in from staff in partner teams;

* Inability to reach consensus - protracted decision-making;

* Frequent use “them and us” language;

* Non co-operation, or out-and-out blaming and shaming.

The presence of just one of these factors is often rapidly followed by others. It’s a slippery slope. Many joint projects start out with good intentions, but are struggle without clear and robust partner leadership, practices and processes. So how do you pull a partnership project back from the brink, or, better still, stop it from getting there in the first place?

If you really want to build partnerships that last, you'll need to move mountains to make sure that you:

1. Prepare a ‘partnership pre-nup’: involve your professional project managers, lawyers and accountants from the outset. They'll ensure you honestly size up the risks and rewards.

2. Define Decision Making: decide how leaders of each partner team will deal with the inevitable challenges of joint decision-making, and how to persist to find workable solutions.

3. Table hopes and concerns: give everyone room to share their thoughts, without judgement. Listening carefully to all voices can save costly mistakes down the line.

4. Appreciate your Personalities: find out about the project team's collective strengths, experiences and personality types. Do this at the start and repeat when new people join. Use a personality framework to stimulate honest conversations, and learn how to get the best from everyone.

5. Get the word out: let other colleagues know what you’re up to, even if they’re not deeply involved.

Follow these key steps and you boost your chances of partnering success. If you can make one partnership work, you will have discovered a formula that can be applied many times over. Having an independent facilitator on board helps the team to gel from the outset, to clearly define business partnering processes and practices that will deliver mutual success.

At durhamlane we work with leaders and their teams when forming a partnership or bringing a partnering project back on track. Talk to us about where you are at on your partnering journey and book a complimentary partnering review with one of our consultants.

Get in touch today