In For the Long Haul – How to Maintain a Long-Term Partnership

A good community business partnership should aim to be around for the long-term, producing bigger, better and longer-lasting benefits for those involved. Some of the reasons for this are:
  • Fewer resources spent starting up relationships, and reduced scaling down and exit costs.
  • Better knowledge of each others' strengths and weaknesses.
  • A comfortable relationship where each partner knows the other well and feels confident in working with them.
  • The longer the partnership exists, the more recognisable it will become in the community and among your staff and members. This can help attract members, gain media coverage and possibly exert influence on decision-makers if and when necessary.
Think about what your partner wants, not just what you need.
Wants and needs can change. Refer to the Help Sheets: Spend time building your partnership.
Build an actual partnership, not just a series of joint activities – firstly by properly preparing and planning the partnership and then through continued review.
This means devoting time, energy, resources, planning and thinking.
Several partnership planning help sheets are available, in the sections Before you Start and Now You’re Involved.

Review regularly.
Refresh the partnership over time through collaborative reviews and changes if needed.
For more information, refer to the Help Sheets:
Personnel and people.
Even tried and tested formulae can benefit from a different perspective ora new point of view.
If you need to, involve new people to help you gain that different point of view - but ensure they are trained, ready and willing to take up the task. For more information, look at the Help Sheets:
Do a bit extra.
Be prepared to go that extra mile in your partnership, or pick up some slack if your partner is struggling or is busy.
Doing this sort of thinking and being prepared to help out adds intangible value to your partnership and helps it in the long-term.
Refer to the Help Sheets:
Understand your partner.
If your partner is experiencing any difficulties, help them out where you can, and show understanding if they temporarily cannot fulfil all their responsibilities. (Refer to the Help Sheet Sharing the Load for more information.)

Communicate, and ensure those communicating can get the message across.
A key to a successful long-term partnership is being able to communicate with your partner. Without solid, honest and consistent communication, your partnership has more of a chance of falling down when initial difficulties arise.
In planning your partnership, make sure those partnership personnel who can communicate effectively are in positions where they can use their talent for the betterment of the partnership.

Build relationships with key people within your organisation and within your partner organisation.
If the partnership is something that becomes a part of many business staff or community group member’s lives, it will have plenty of drive.
Having a number of strongly-committed people encourages those involved to keep things ticking along well, as they have a sense of “ownership” of the partnership.

Acknowledge your failings and build on your learning – get back on the horse.
If you make a mistake or cause a problem, acknowledge it quickly and work with your partner to find ways to address the issue.
No-one is perfect all the time, so instead of hiding from the problem (which will only make things worse), address it quickly.
Look at the Help Sheets: