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Partnering For Productivity
By Alan Patching   Printer Friendly Version

Many marriages fail in western society. I believe, for exactly the same reasons as these marriages fail, that many intra-workplace relationships either fail or do not reach their full potential, and their organization and the individuals suffer as a result.

Get the relationships right within the organization right and synergy usually results. When this happens, productivity and profitability increases are the usual, very welcome consequences.

So how do we get the relationships right?

By introducing our human capital to the principle of Partnering. Partnering is one of the most effective communication/relationship strategies available to organizations.

Partnering is nothing more than a strategy that assists people within an organization to work together in a highly effective manner.

It involves some very simple principles, most of them easily understood in isolation. However, seldom is the power of their being used as a complete strategy even remotely understood.

The principles are as follows:

1. Understanding

This involves identifying and discussing the common goals and objectives (work practices, communication style, manner, dealing with customers, etc., etc.) that you share with the people with whom you are entering a partnership arrangement. Equally importantly, it involves people clearly understanding the areas where they have different views and approaches.

Understanding in the partnering context comes from formal open (and often facilitated) discussion between the people entering the partnering arrangement and concludes with the scheduling of areas of commonality and those in which differences of opinion exist and from where problems are most likely to rise in future.

2. Problem Areas Strategy

Potential problem areas having been identified, the Partnering philosophy promotes establishing a means of dealing with issues that do arise in an atmosphere of calm at the start of a project rather than waiting until problems do arise during the course of the project and trying to resolve them in a sea of emotion.

3. Escalation

History has shown that Partnering recognizes that a broader perspective is required to solve many problems within organizations which really arise from personality clashes or inappropriate defense of positions. The broader perspective can be gained using an "Escalation System." This involves identifying people within an organization with the skills, experience and position to solve problems before they get out of hand.

4. In a contractual situation, this could be a representative from either side of the contractual arrangement. In an internal situation, it could be a qualified counselor from the Human Resources Department or even an externally appointed person.

The "Escalation System" quite often will have two or three layers in it, depending the type of project, etc., and may even involve the CEO's of a couple of organizations at its highest level.

1. Charter

There is a strong connection between integrity and the addition of our signatures to documents. I therefore believe that the real success of the Partnering system lies in the Partnership Charter, which is a simple document no more than a couple of pages which schedules the identified areas of agreement between the people involved in a particular Partnering arrangement, together with those identified areas of disagreement. It goes on to schedule the method agreed for dealing of problems and the agreed "Escalation System" including the parties nominated to be involved in this system.

2. Review

It is difficult to fix something if you do not even know it's broken. The success of Partnering will depend, to a large extent, on regular reviews of the system during the course of its application.

I challenge you to experiment with Partnering. It is a great strategy for improving workplace relationships and releasing the extra productivity that resides within that gold mine of human resource potential within your organization.

If anybody would like a copy of a Partnering Charter appropriate for the workplace, do not hesitate to contact me and I will send you some extracts from my book on the subject.

Until next issue, good business and good life.

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