Health Check-up: How to ensure a partnership continues to function well
Partnerships should be reviewed regularly to ensure they are running well and providing the best-possible results. A few key strategies can help keep you on track.
Communication (verbal and informal)
Ensure there are only one or two points of contact at your business for your community group partner.
Be clear about who will speak publicly about the relationship - to media, government, other businesses, community groups, etc.
Engage in genuine discussion by talking to the community group and listening and asking questions about your partnership.
Give and be willing to receive feedback. When appropriate, discuss feedback from staff members, volunteers and community members about the partnership's progress.
View and treat your community partner as an equal. Don't patronise them. At the end of the day the relationship has benefits for both partners so equity is important if the relationship is to flourish.
Communication (formal, at regular meetings)
Organise, evaluate and review any partnership activities.
Actively and periodically help review or revisit decision-making processes and resource and responsibility allocation and, if needed, the partnership's exit strategy.
Conduct a periodic review of the partnership's goals. Discuss any changes or refocussing that may be needed. These goals should have been set at the start of your partnership, but don't be afraid to revisit its aims.
Be up-front and honest with your community group partner. If there is an idea you like or don't like, or a time you can contribute a little more or a bit less to the partnership, say so.
Avoide hidden agendas at all costs.
Make decisions jointly. This also involves showing respect for the partnership and your community group partner by adhering to those decisions and working together to implement what has been decided.
Listen to and respect your community group partner's opinions and feedback. Their honestly held opinions based on experience in the community sector are as valid as your business opinions.
Respect your community group partner's abilities and limitations. If your community group partner says they can or can't do something, accept and believe what you are being told.
Remember to say thank you. Thanking your community group partner is the best way to show your appreciation for what they are bringing to the partnership. For more ideas about how to say thank you, refer to the How to Say Thank You Help Sheet.
Put in that extra bit of work when needed. By picking up some slack once in a while or "going that extra mile" - for example, offering extra donations of in-kind goods, or taking on extra responsibility if your community group partner is not able to.
Discuss how to involve the media, local government or local chamber of commerce in further publicising both your partnership and your community group partner. A little bit of positive publicity can go a long way.