Source 7: Creating Successful Partnerships
Shortcut Navigation:
Change Text Size: A A A

Source 7: Creating Successful Partnerships


Use these tips to make your partnerships soar.

Communicate constantly—or at least consistently.

  • Meet regularly (biweekly, monthly)—even if there are no pressing issues to resolve.
  • Expect to disagree.
  • Develop a healthy mechanism for ironing out differences, so you’re not meeting only when things go wrong.

Know where you want to go.

  • Know—very specifically—what will constitute success for your organization.
  • Do the maximum allowable “internal PR” for the project. It won’t last if it’s built only from the top.

Know where they want to go.

  • Know—very specifically—what will constitute success for your partner.

Identify your partners’ self interests, strengths, and limits.

  • Acknowledge the strengths each partner brings to the table.
  • Know your partners’ limits in terms of budget, time, and culture—and tell them yours.

Match the right personalities.

  • Assign the partnership to employees who enjoy building consensus and are good at negotiations and conflict resolution.
  • Remember that individual relationships can make or break partnerships.

Prepare for bumps.

  • When turnover happens (and it will), expect a few bumps in the road. Don’t pine over the leader or partner who left.

Seek compatibility.

  • Start with respect, then build trust.
  • Remember that compatible viewpoints count.
  • Root your projects in things that all partners find valuable.

Trust, but verify.

  • Feel secure in the knowledge that everyone is going to meet their commitments.
  • Don’t be embarrassed about generating a “letter of agreement” to guide the partnership. It’s easy to forget what you’ve agreed to—and easy for those misunderstandings to ruin a relationship.

Speak your mind—or risk losing it.

  • If you’re disappointed with your partner’s performance, say so.
  • Be open to their comments on your work.
  • Probe for the underlying reasons behind any disagreements.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • Make sure all representatives at the table have the authority to make deals that stick.

Win one for your partner.

  • Make sure your partner gets a “win” out of each project—and let them know that their interests are very high on your priority list.

Treat your partnership like a marriage.

  • If you start out keeping score, you’ll need a referee. Remember that you both bring something to the table. You may have more to offer than you realize.

Don’t treat your partnership like a marriage.

  • Remember that each partner’s engagement will fluctuate depending on the nature of the project, the specific activity, and even the time of day or year.

Remember that more is not necessarily merrier.

  • Add secondary partners on an as-needed basis—and renew them on a case-by-case basis. It’s much easier to add partners than it is to fire them.

Stop and smell the results!

Acknowledge your successes. Get all of your bosses to party.



want to sign up

Get the latest news on health, economic security, and advocacy for older adults.

Sign Up