9 Tips for Effective Collaborative Partnerships

Courtesy of digitalart and FreeDigitalPhotos.
Courtesy of digitalart and FreeDigitalPhotos.

As many today are indicating, we are moving into a time of the collaborative economy.  Few large organizations can provide all raw materials, services or product knowledge to be a single dominant market leader.  More and more companies are relying on development of solid partnerships to become a sum that is larger than the component parts.  Whether the collaboration is between firms, individuals or individuals working with firms, all collaborative partnerships are built on a foundation of honesty, trust, and attraction, but why do some, not all, last, endure and actually prosper over time?

It is important to understand that it’s about working with partners to create the right partnership, for the right time and the right purpose.  I have found that there are some very basic factors that work for business partnerships that also can be applied to personal partnerships so let’s examine a few of them:

1.  Excellent business partners make plenty of time for collaboration.

Neglect based on lack of attention damages partnerships far more often than malicious abuse or competition.  Nothing is more critical to the bond you share with another firm or person, than simply being there for them, without being overbearing.  Too often, we underestimate the power of an honest question and a responsive ear that’s present and focused.  Although it’s a simple act, it may very well be the most powerful act of compassion – one that has the potential maintain or turn a partnership around.  This should take place at all levels of the partnership, not just one or two levels.

2.  Excellent business partners provide honest communication & connection. 

No matter how sure you are of a partner’s commitment, it is always nice to be reminded of it.  When you truly collaborate between firms, be honest and forthright in words and deeds every single day.  Don’t beat around the bush.  Be straightforward but also maintain compassion for the culture of both firms.  Don’t let the partnership die because of unexpressed therefore unmet expectations.

3. Excellent business partners meet in the middle and compromise. 

You will achieve far more by working with them, rather than working alone or against them.  That’s what healthy partnerships are all about – teamwork.  The strength of a partnership depends on the strength of its two members, and the strength of each member in the end depends on the quality of the partnership.

If you or your company makes an effort to work closely with your partners, you can conquer the world together.

4.  Excellent business partners let action speak for each other: 

Actions often speak much louder than words.  Partners will be able to tell how healthy the partnership is by how they treat each other over the long-term.

You can say “sorry” a thousand times, but if you’re not going to prove that the things you say are true, then they aren’t.

5. Excellent business partners respect each other’s limitations: 

All organizations are imperfect; they are an assemblage of humans.  At times, the confident lose their confidence, the patient misplaces their patience, the generous act selfish, and the knowledgeable second guess what they know.

It is important to stand beside the partners that support you through their trying times of imperfection, and offer yourself the same courtesy; if you aren’t willing to offer support in the tough times, you don’t deserve to be around for the perfect moments either.

6. Excellent business partners focus on the common good:

What you focus on grows stronger in your partnerships.  When you focus on the positive aspects of the relationships, you will have an excellent collaboration.  When you focus on organizations negative issues, you have not so excellent collaborations with them.  It’s about the trust.

Your attitude is a little thing that makes a massive difference.  Don’t be the stubborn one who makes it a point to not see the good in the partner or their staff.

7.  Excellent business partners focus on long-term potential:

There must be common ground in your interests and outlooks on business for the relationship to work for an extended period.  Both parties need to resist the temptation to take a short-term advantage of the other under any circumstances.  There must be some advantage to the collaboration environment for all involved for it to continue and proper.

8.  Excellent business partners resolve conflicts through deeper collaboration, not retaliation:

If you are disappointed with your company or frustrated with your partners, the answer is not to take it out on the world around you.  Retribution, whether focused on your firm, staff or others, brings zero value into your life.  The way beyond the pain from the past is not with vengeance, mockery, bullying or retaliation, but with compassion and caring.

9.  Excellent business partners are committed to growing together: 

Initially, neither of your firms actually knows the best in each other; you both grow into your best organizations by spending time together and nurturing each other’s growth.  The key is finding a balance so that each organization’s identity is preserved, yet there is no doubt that there is a greater impact when working together.  There must be a win-win attitude on both sides for this growth to take place.

In summary, it’s important to realize that whether your partnerships are for specific lengths of time or ongoing agreements, it is critical to keep these points in mind when making decisions and supporting the partnership.  Not only are we moving into a collaborative economy but we are also dealing with a hyper-connected society, which means that individuals and companies must be customer centric in all they do and say in the market place.  These tips can help one to stay focused.