We were asked to help a department of technical expert consultants become full partners with their internal business clients. Colleague Jill Golde was approached by the head of a department of a large international corporation. This group provided consultation to other departments in the firm. They were looking to expand their impact, and asked us to help them develop their business partnerships.
Maximizing Business Partnerships is a training process focused primarily on the skills needed to work closely with and influence another person. We worked with a Planning Team from the department to customize the training program to the needs of this group of experts. We determined that this program would work best if it was experienced over a period of months so that the skills and concepts could be integrated over time. We customized six days of training over a period of six months, with these objectives:
- Understand what it means to work in partnership:
- Reaching clear and explicit agreements
- Influencing and being influenced
- Committing to a joint goal
- Maximizing use of resources from both parties
- Review and practice communication skills that are building blocks of good partnerships: examining assumptions, listening, questioning.
- Conduct contracting conversations that clarify and define agreements.
- Uncover the “real need” in a given work request or project, using techniques for inquiring, clarifying and listening.
- Influence others with integrity, and create buy-in through analyzing interests, seeking to understand the current state, and providing support and challenge.
- Analyze their own business relationships’ strengths and weaknesses and create a plan to address and improve the partnership.
Six months later, building partnerships is not only the approach they are using with their clients inside their organization, but also with each other in order to provide the best service they can. The Vice President of the department says, “I consider this type of training to be mission critical for a corporate staff department that needs to build effective partnerships to be able to add value to their client’s businesses, truly understand their role in the partnership and help drive sustainable business results.”