According to the Oxford Dictionary, a partner is “a person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, especially in a business or company with shared risks and profits.” In other words, a partner is someone that shares a common vision and goals with you and has a vested interest in whether you jointly succeed. In workforce development, the need to collaborate and connect with other organizations is essential to service delivery. Most workforce development agencies aren’t equipped to meet every customer need and partners help to fill those gaps. Without our partners, we’d be hard-pressed to provide the full array of services that our customers currently receive.
So, let’s consider your partners. If you are acquainted with an organization, it’s easy to say that you’re “partners.” But, based on this definition, are you truly partners? Are your partners vested in seeing you succeed? Do you know what goals or outcomes your partners are striving for? In order for a partnership to be successful, each party needs to have their “What’s in it for me?” satisfied. I like to call this the WIIFM Factor. Each organization has one. For a One-Stop, it might be reaching certain placement goals. For a community-based organization, it could be having a specific impact on the community they serve. To have a successful partnership, the WIIFM Factor needs to be identified and made a priority as you work together.
My Request to You:
Take a look at your current partners and ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do you know what services your partner provides, including what’s required to make a referral? Does your partner understand the same about your services?
2. Are you clear on your partners goals, especially related to their funding requirements? Have you explained the goals (WIIFM Factor) of your agency?
3. Have you established a system for making a referral to your partner? Do they know how to refer a customer to you?
4. Do you have contact with your partner outside of making referrals? If not, why?
5. Is your partner included in decisions that might impact how you work together and/or with customers? In other words, do they have a “voice” in your organization?
Your Call to Action:
Identify one partner that you want to strengthen your relationship with. Over the next month, go through the list above and remedy any of the areas that need to be addressed. For #4, the holidays are an excellent time to let your partners know how much they are appreciated. It could be as simple as a thank you note or stopping by their desk or office to let them know how much of a difference they make. A simple acknowledgement of a partners’ role in the success of your customer(s) can go a very long way. I hope you’ll accept the challenge! If you do, we’d love to hear about it. Now, take some action!