Article

How To Build Successful Partnerships That Last: Until Death Do Us Part

BizLibrary Values Building Successful Partnerships That Last

This is part five of our BizLibrary Values series, in which we explore the pursuit of excellence. If you haven’t yet, check out the rest of the series here:

For corporate values to be meaningful, they must be observed practically – not just something that is written on a website or on a wall. Values should be visible and easily accessible, but more than that, they should be practiced company-wide.

Your company values are a representation of your people, products and culture, and they unify the qualities that bring meaning to the work your organization was created for.

At BizLibrary, one of our core values is to “Build Successful Partnerships That Last.” I’ve observed new partnerships formed on a regular basis between the company and clients, and the company and employees, and I’ve seen several commonalities between these two types of relationships.

However, this company value isn’t just forming partnerships – it’s forging SUCCESSFUL partnerships that stand the test of time.

I’ve found that several of the ways a company can build successful partnerships mimic how two people would start a dating relationship and see it through “until death do us part.”

Shared Mission, Vision and Values – Uncovering the Relationship

When mutual interests turn into mutual goals and vision for the future, new couples will start to think, “we belong together.” For businesses to operate and grow, they’ll also need that mentality when starting new partnerships.

The importance of a clear company mission and vision for what’s to come cannot be understated – partnerships with employees and clients will always come back to this foundation.

You probably already have a mission statement that establishes the company in the present, but what about the future?

A proper vision statement is comprised of two elements:

  • A detailed, descriptive picture of the future you aspire to
  • Massive, scary, long term goals

It’s important when painting this detailed picture of the future to dream big (the bigger the better), even if you feel your goals aren’t attainable.

A clear vision, succinct mission and shared values are the key elements of high-performing organizations and teams. They inspire and motivate employees to bring their best to work by providing the picture of future success, the operating focus for the present and the guideposts for how all parts of the organization will work together for success.

A shared vision will drive and guide all your company’s efforts. It will increase organizational effectiveness through more efficient decision-making, and more forward-thinking, action-oriented conversations with clients.

If the companies aren’t aligned through a mutual mission and vision, it will start creating cracks in the company culture. Whether that happens quickly or over time, it will eventually mean a break up – employees move on and clients take their business elsewhere.

Don’t try to trudge through laying the foundation for a new partnership if the fit isn’t right. If you can foresee irreconcilable differences with an employee or client based on their desired direction vs. yours, let it go before it begins.

“One genuine new relationship is worth a fistful of business cards.”

– Susan Cain

When you’ve determined that there could be a future to a new relationship either through the interviewing process or buyer’s journey, you’ll know you can always fall back on your mutual mission, vision and values to guide you as you further invest in the partnership.

Establishing Goals – Planning for the Future

For a company’s relationships with clients and employees to grow stronger, they need to regularly ensure both parties are on the same page when it comes to what they’re working to accomplish, and how they’re going to get there.

The mission and vision are important, but they’re empty words without the action plan to see them through.

“If you’re interested in the living heart of what you do, focus on building things rather than talking about them.”

– Ryan Freitas

Goals provide the focus needed to achieve a desired result. For a dating couple, if they’re hoping to get married and buy their first house, they’ll need to take an in-depth look at the financial and relational steps it’ll take to reach those goals.

Employees should know that their employer is invested in their personal development and career growth. Clients need to see an established path to the results they’re looking for through a partnership with your company.

You may have heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals, which are aptly named. Following this acronym, the goals you set should fit each of these aspects:

S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time-bound

Creating benchmarks along the path to your larger goals allows you to measure progress and compare where you are with where you’d like to be. Your goals can be changed as priorities change, new ones can be added, and others dropped.

Goals should always be a motivating force, not a demoralizing one.

What’s important here is open communication. When you’re working toward goals in partnership, one side can’t be hiding shortcomings from the other. In fact, it’s the understanding that you’re both on the same side that allows you to trust each other, disclose all the facts, and work through problems together.

Communicating Clear Expectations – Making the Vows

For two parts of a partnership to grow together and stay together, expectations have to be clearly communicated and continuously reiterated. These are the vows of commitment that ring true not only at the start of the partnership, but every day thereafter.

Without clear expectations in place, you’re setting yourself up for inevitable issues down the road. Unclear expectations are one of the top sources of frustration for employees, especially if there’s change happening within the organization.

And guess what… the number one factor in creating highly satisfied, loyal and engaged clients… is highly satisfied, loyal and engaged employees.

As early in the relationship as possible, invest the time necessary to clearly describe the shared expectations for how you will work with your clients and with your employees. If you do this well, everyone will be on the same page, and whenever you over-deliver on expectations, they will see you as someone they trust and want to be loyal to – a strong driver of success for any business.

Only establish expectations that have a real chance of succeeding – even if they do sound impossible at first. Make sure that there is no ambiguity about what is expected. Describe what you’re aiming for fully and in a positive way. If your goals and priorities are clearly articulated, those who will execute them will be able to focus all their effort on attaining them.

Just like with goals, some expectations can reasonably fluctuate. If frustrations arise, make sure to check in on the clarity of the expectations you’ve established to see if the problem is stemming from actual disagreement about a process or idea, or simply from miscommunication.

Respect and Support – Growing Together for Life

For partnerships to last the long haul, they must be invested in continually. Making the commitment at the start and signing a contract with a new hire or new client is only the beginning.

At BizLibrary, our Client Success team works diligently to ensure both we and our clients are prepared for and invested in building an employee training program that will deliver on the business results they’re aiming to achieve.

In this partnership, we make equal contributions and rely on mutual accountability. Our client success consultants know there must be dedication to communicating effectively for them to understand the challenges our clients face, and to work through solutions.

Reliability, respect and encouragement underpin the atmosphere of trust that develops when both consultant and client stay focused on the goals they’re working toward together.

Trust breeds loyalty, and building that trust comes down to how leadership instills it in the company culture.

When the culture of your organization makes it abundantly clear that people are valuable for who they are, more than for what they have to offer, your partnerships will flourish and challenges like employee engagement and retention will cease to stifle your business’s mission.

View our free on-demand webinar to learn practical ways of building your employee partnerships:

Employee Engagement webinar cover

As Chief Revenue Officer, Shannon oversees the Client Success and Sales Teams. Shannon has been with BizLibrary since August of 2003 and has succeeded in multiple roles working with clients and organizational process improvement. Shannon has been recognized as a Top 100 Customer Success Influencer by MindTouch and a Customer Success A-Lister by Amity.

Chief Revenue Officer at BizLibrary