Building Bridges of Partnership

by Eric Wann

Building Bridges of Partnership   

Everyone knows that partnerships are important to their organizations.  Building strong partnerships should be a key component of any strategy to ensure success.  For most people, the most important partnership that is mentioned is a partnership with their customers.  From there it moves to the supply chain to include vendors and distributors.  Some even mention the community as a key component to their bridge building process. 

I believe the most important partnership bridge you can build is with your employees.  A strong partnership here solidifies your success with the other groups mentioned.  It is your employees that interact the most with your customers.  The same is true for the people up and down your supply chain.  Your employees can also become your organizational ambassadors during their interactions at work and away from work in their discussions in the community.

Although bridges take many different forms and are engineered for specific purposes, they are all secured by some type of foundation that allows them to withstand both the elements and the traffic they will encounter.  This foundation is equally important to a successful partnership in the workplace.

All true partnerships in the workplace require five elements to build this foundation.  These five elements also are needed to build a successful work environment for your employees.  Each partner in the partnership must be:

  1. Informed – Communication must flow seamlessly for the partnership to be successful.  Any missing information is like walking across an old suspension bridge and wondering if the next wooden slat will hold.  Progress is slowed and trust is lost as a result.
  1. Trusted – Trust is a basic building block of any successful partnership.  In fact, without trust there is no true partnership.  Each participant must feel and exhibit trust.
  1. Involved – Partnership denotes action and involvement.  Yes, there are “silent” partners, but even they have distinct role to play in the success of the organization. 
  1. Challenged – To get the most out of a partnership arrangement, each party must feel challenged and be willing to respond to that challenge. 
  1. Recognized – Part of the reward comes in the form of the recognition provided for their involvement. 

These five elements build on each other.  It is pattern that can be applied to a successful partnership with a customer as well as the community at large.  It is also the key to the successful partnership with your employee base as a whole as well as each individual employee.  Bring them into the excitement of being a true partner in your organization’s success.  Inform them. Trust them. Involve them.  Challenge them.  Reward them for their effort.  It may be the most exciting bridge you have ever built!