In today’s business environment, few things play a greater role in helping you succeed than strong, collaborative partnerships. Strong partnerships can lead to long-lasting business relationships that fuel innovation and help business partners grow their bottom line.
By understanding some key tell-tale signs that you’ve built a highly collaborative partnership, you can continue working with your current partners with confidence.
1. Effective and transparent communication
Although it may sound trite, effective communication is a hallmark for any collaborative partnership. In this case, there are several factors that ensure communication is truly fostering a collaborative relationship.
First is the consistency of the communication. Partners should agree to a regular cadence of communication to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks. Whether this occurs via informal daily emails and monthly Zoom calls or more formal monthly operations meetings or quarterly business reviews, what matters most is that communication is happening at the right levels at a frequency that ensures everyone stays on the same page and maintains aligned goals.
Perhaps even more important, however, is the transparency that is present when partners are willingly sharing necessary resources with each other. Data, experience and ideas are just a few of the things that collaborative partners willingly share with each other to create successful outcomes for the partnership. As Slack reports, such transparency drives better business performance and improves efficiency by ensuring everyone has the tools they need to get the job done.
While partners likely won’t share every bit of their internal data with each other, the best business relationships embrace transparency by proactively sharing information and insights that are relevant to their work together. Also important: when conflicts occur, they happen in a healthy manner, with each side being willing to see things from their partner’s perspective. Truly collaborative teams use disagreements to reconsider preconceptions, learn and further refine the partnership.
2. Everyone Has Autonomy and Accountability
Accountability is crucial in any partnership — but sometimes, efforts to prioritize accountability can lead to one partner micromanaging the other. This can suppress innovation and morale, potentially even causing the micromanaged partner to feel resentful and look for ways to end the relationship.
In fact, surveys have found that 71% of workers who have experienced micromanagement say that it interferes with their job performance — hardly a recipe for a successful partnership.
Instead, collaborative partnerships still value accountability, but give each partner the autonomy to fulfill their role as they see fit. Indeed, in his book DriveNew York Times bestselling author Daniel Pink cites autonomy, or “the desire to direct our own lives” as the first of three essential facets of successful 21st century work.
Mark Castley, CEO of LuxuryProperty.com, a global real estate brand that recently opened up shop in the US after a highly successful decade in the UAE, explains the value of autonomy this way: “Since becoming CEO, I quickly learned that the whole The goal of any partnership, whether you’re selling specialty real estate or hiring an IT firm to manage your cybersecurity, is to work with an expert to help you with key tasks.
“You obviously have to hold your partner accountable for whether or not they’re helping you achieve desired outcomes. But you also have to provide a level of trust to allow them to carry out their tasks in the way they understand to be best. This trust comes from having clearly defined and measurable targets that are regularly reviewed to predict success.”
When both sides have the autonomy to act in the way they feel is best for the partnership, they will actually gain a greater sense of ownership over their work, thus improving accountability. This type of collaborative partnership ensures that accountability comes from internal, rather than external forces.
3. You’re Both Hitting Your KPIs
Perhaps the most obvious sign that you have built a successful collaborative partnership is that both sides are hitting their agreed-upon KPIs (key performance indicators). This only happens when both partners have identified and committed to a set of shared goals from the outset of the partnership, as well as the actions that would be necessary to reach those KPIs. The University of Tennessee teaches organizations to mutually create a Requirements Roadmap for their partnership, which links KPIs to the partners’ shared vision and desired outcomes.
Successful partnerships put their joint metrics front and center, with both sides wanting each other to reach their desired outcomes through their partnership. The KPIs become a core area of emphasis in key communications such as monthly operations reviews and more formal Quarterly Business Reviews. Well-managed partnerships create dashboards where they share data to track progress toward these goals and actively work together to identify potential solutions to improve outcomes — particularly if there are any areas where they are falling short.
Regularly communicating KPIs helps all parties invested in the partnership — even down to individual teams — better understand their individual responsibilities, the role of each team, and how their work contributes to the big-picture success of the partnership. Partners actively prioritize their collaborators’ KPIs, as well as their own.
Where Will Collaborative Partnerships Take You?
Successful collaborative partnerships can be one of your most valuable assets in an extremely competitive and ever-changing business landscape. The right partnerships can help you navigate unexpected disruptions and increase profitability. But most importantly, when you build highly collaborative partnerships, you can have confidence that you and your partner will be able to work together for the long haul.