BUILDING BUSINESS THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS
The Power of Partnerships: Partnerships with Your Employees and Contractors
by Denise Trifiletti
My last column discussed how strategic business partnerships can increase client satisfaction, client referrals, and long-term client retention. This article explains how forging strong partnerships with your employees and/or contractors can also grow your business.
Most business owners don't consider their employees to be their strategic and tactical business partners. This is unfortunate. Most of the time, your employees have a closer relationship with your customers than you do. Your employees also have a vested interest in the success of your business. You need to recognize these realities.
Appreciate the fact that your employees are human beings. Their feelings about you and your customers run the full gamut. Some days they will be up, some days down. Some days they will come to work energized and focused, some days they won't. By treating them as your partners, you will be able to work with them, and they with you. They will be more considerate of your needs and more willing to 'go the extra mile' to help your business grow. Their strong sense of ownership will be reflected in their work.
The key here is that you must reciprocate. Work with your people. Help them by showing consideration for their situations, both professional and personal. Get to know them and learn what makes them tick. What are their interests? What are their needs? Think of ways to recognize them and the work they do. The old axiom, "Reward in public; reprimand in private," is as valuable as the Golden Rule.
Help your employees to understand and internalize the relationship between their financial well-being and the success of your business. Make sure they have the tools necessary to do the job—and to do it well. If possible, base a portion of their compensation on the success of the business.
Give your employee partners ample opportunities to give you advice - yes, advice. An employee whose expertise is solicited by the boss is grateful for the opportunity to contribute. Remember, however, that if you accept input with a polite expression of thanks, and then fail to consider it, you are closing the door on great ideas in the future. You may not choose to follow every suggestion that you receive, but you should always give your employees recognition for their efforts and interest. Be sure to let them know what action, if any, you plan to take. If you implement one of your employee's ideas, make sure everyone understands how that idea meshes with your overall business strategies.
Speaking of business strategies, do you share yours with your employees? If not, the time to start doing so is now. You know from personal experience that in order to be the best you can be, you must know why you're doing what you're doing. You can't be committed if you're not connected, and neither can your employees.
Now, let's consider your contractors.
As with their employees, most business owners fail to regard their contractors as partners—viewing them only as sources of products or services. This is a mistake. Your contractors are businesses as well, run by business people who work with their own clients and suppliers. If your suppliers become your partners, you will have many opportunities to improve each other's bottom lines.
You can establish a mutually beneficial business-to-business partnership with a service provider, such as an attorney or an accountant. Your attorney, for example, has other clients, as well as a variety of business relationships within and outside the profession. It is likely that he or she will be familiar with those individuals' needs. If you can meet those needs, your attorney will be comfortable making introductions and providing referrals, since the two of you have already built a relationship based on mutual trust. You, in turn, can reciprocate by confidently referring your attorney to your clients and business contacts.
These partnerships with your employees and your contractors are not only excellent partnerships to have. In my view, they are essential. Failing to recognize the possibilities inherent in these partnerships leaves countless opportunities untapped—something you don't want to do!
Consider this: If your employees and contractors were your raving fans, providing you with quality referrals, how much business could you handle?
Denise Trifiletti, a business coach and an accomplished leader in the fields of sales and training, is the co-founder of Dynamic Destiny Partnerships, LLC and the founder of Women's Community, LLC. Her most recent book is Create the Business Breakthrough You Want: Secrets and Strategies of the World's Greatest Mentors (Mission Publishing, 2004). Denise can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.