Evaluating Partnerships

This week's #Baldinbusiness post of the week examines partnerships and was written on an airplane after a week in Europe developing partner relationships. Tip of the day: Always reflect in real-time. I have found that writing down my reflections make them last.



What makes a good business partner?

I asked myself this question over the summer as we have been exploring different international partnerships. What follows are some ideas that I jotted down during that process, which as I write is still ongoing.

You will notice that very little of what follows has to do with the “what” of the partnership (i.e. injection molding for our industry). This portion IS important in any industry, for you want to partner with someone capable. But capability does not make a good partner, it only makes a partner capable in that given field. So without further ado, here are some of my thoughts —Feel free to add your own in the comment section.

I always want to examine a potential partner’s worldview. For instance, how do they talk about challenges? Are they always the victim? Or do they talk about conflict, event defeat, from a personal accountability standpoint? For example, are they blaming policies, the President, bad luck, or their team? An occasional rift aside, a pattern here is problematic because the first time something goes wrong in the partnership —and things always go wrong at some point —they will blame you!

If the person has any kind of authority, how do they talk about people that report to them? Do they belittle them? Do they come across as someone sitting on a throne? Depending on your views, and your company’s culture, that may not be a deal breaker. For me, however, it is because it does not coincide with our core values of family, integrity, service, and trust. And make no mistake about it, two partners with dissimilar core values will NOT thrive together.

Another indicator of values is how they talk about their spouses, assuming they have one, or their loved ones. Do they represent the best of those not present, or the worst? Again, this is most likely how they will represent you, and your company, when you are not there. And 90% of the time, you won't be there!

Finally, pay close attention to how a potential partner behaves when they are not necessarily “on” (while driving, at dinner, etc.). This is where they may potentially let the guard down and show you their true character. Do they obsess over the smallest slight on the road? Are they committed to working hard, or partying hard? Are they self-controlled, or do they spill the beans?

The trip I was on when I created this list was with a potential partner who is an incredible human being. They spoke about others with grace, worked hard, and were a tremendous host to our team. Their expertise was apparent when we visited their plant. But more importantly, I witnessed them shaking hands with everyone, and knowing the names of everyone. It not only felt like “us,” but I also liked being around this person. And that’s the last point of this post...

Don’t become partners with someone you do not like. Whatever you are partnering in will, at some point, have challenges. So, is your partner someone who will make those challenging situations more challenging? Choose wisely.




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