Great partnerships have the power to transform those involved and the world around them. Wilbur and Orville Wright gave us wings to fly and Ben and Jerry expanded our waistlines. Building brilliant partnerships, be that with your suppliers, clients or associates, takes effort but when they do work, both parties are flying.
At Comtec we put a lot of emphasis on the power of partnerships. When our clients come to us they get a translation partner, not a translation service. We share this ethos with our friends at Sponge, a leading eLearning solutions company who we have worked with for over six years. That’s why in November we co-hosted an informal virtual round table to share out experiences and discuss:
- The must-have elements of a strong partnership
- How to build a partnership that delivers value to both sides
- The importance of shared values to achieve a shared goal
- Tips and practical advice on how to establish an effective partnership
- How to successfully onboard a new partner
- The role of technology in partnerships
- Measuring the bottom line of your partnerships
If you want to hear the discussion and the tips and advice our panellists shared, then the recording can be found here. There were a few standout lessons though, which we summarise here:
Take the time to onboard new partners
“The kick-off call for me is one of the most important calls we have with a client.” James Foster – Account Manager, Sponge
In our experience, the initial stage of a new working relationship is the time to gather information, ask questions and understand expectations and requirements. Our panelists reinforced this in the session, by sharing their techniques for onboarding. Louise, Founder and Managing Director of Sponge, likened it to onboarding a new employee. You don’t want to simply discuss the project in question, but understand and share the wider context. You should uncover the environment in which this project sits and background information that will lead to a deeper understanding on both sides. This takes time, of course, but by onboarding new partners well you can set everyone up for success.
Understand, listen and manage expectations
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Susan Lankfer, Head of Client Relations, Comtec
Linked to good onboarding is understanding expectations. Again, our panel shared their experiences of asking lots of questions and actively listening to responses. Being clear on expectations upfront, means everyone involved is working to the same outcome. Doing this can save both parties problems later in the project. Managing expectations ensures that neither party is disappointed by the results. Never overpromise and under-deliver.
Start off on the right foot by removing assumptions and asking the right question to understand what is needed. James, Account Manager at Sponge, shared with us how often people can think that working in a partnership is time-consuming. But he says it’s more about gaining real understanding so that we as suppliers can serve them better.
Managing the unexpected and taking opportunities
“If you drop the ball, then you definitely do have some latitude if you have a good, strong relationship.” Lyn Bromley*, Managing Director, First Impressions Training Ltd
As in life, in any working relationship, there are times when things don’t go to plan. A signal of a good partnership is being able to respond positively to those moments and working together to find the right solution. Emily, Senior Account Manager at Comtec, summarised this point by saying that if things don’t go as expected, use it as an opportunity to demonstrate your integrity. If you respond quickly and positively, then it can even increase the level of trust in the relationship.
*Lyn Bromley is the Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and the co-author of the bestselling business book ‘Trusted: the human approach to building outstanding client relationships in a digitised world.’