“They spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people.” – Acts 2:46, 47
The more I experience the journey through life, the more I recognise the importance of togetherness. As I reflect on the importance of good governance to national, business and personal success, as I try to weave a part of the fabric of a successful Caribbean society by shepherding businesses one business after another, as I am thrust into the throes of assisting with organisational change, as I appreciate the beauty of a changing personal socio-cultural landscape, as I met granddaughter number two for the first time this weekend in a multicultural exchange of exquisite hospitality and love, as I appreciate the security provided by lasting bonds of friends and family, I praise God daily for the blessings that he has allowed me to access.
We are social beings and we perform best when we work together, hence team and partnership building at the regional, national, organisational and individual levels are paramount. We must come together to live and work, play and celebrate, worship, love and share.
Each of the above six experiences from “good governance” to “friends and family” probably deserves a column on its own, but today I am going to focus only on team and partnership building as it relates to shepherding businesses, one after another.
I came across an article, “7 Tips for a Successful Business Partnership”, by Marian Banker an entrepreneur whose commitment is “to help small business owners strategize a course of action that will transform them into leaders of their own business and put them on a solid foundation for ongoing growth.”
She states that business partnerships take on a variety of forms. They may be a long term formal legal commitment or a simple short term venture to test a market concept. The same principles apply in all cases. She advocates giving small business partnerships the best chance for success by following these tips:
(1) Start by creating a shared Vision and Mission – take time to discuss the company’s Vision and Mission with partners. Look for what energizes and motivates each partner about the business. Give it a purpose and define what the ideal business will look like. Put the joint Vision and Mission in writing and use it as the reference for everything else.
(2) Make sure each partner’s needs and expectations are addressed – find out what each partner expects from each other in the partnership. Have a plan for when personal or business circumstances or interests change so, when needed, expectations can be readdressed.
(3) Identify and utilize the strengths of each partner – bringing out and utilizing the strengths of the individuals within the partnership will add to the motivation, the energy and the odds of long-term success. Make note of personal strengths and ask each partner to do the same. Then sit together and discuss how to apply these to the business.
(4) Support the partnership’s limitations – look at the areas that are problems. Chances are these are areas that could benefit from some extra support. If you think you can’t afford it, think again. You can’t afford not to support limitations. These gaps are where the value of the business slips away little by little. Don’t let it happen to the business.
(5) Set company and individual goals – review and update company goals together with partners. Then get each partner to set individual goals that support the company goals in their area of expertise. Put all these in writing and get each to commit to their goals. Then at the end of the period there is no question about who’s accountable for what.
(6) Handle disagreements, disappointments and frustrations early – sometimes it’s difficult to approach a partner, especially if it’s a long standing relationship that has deteriorated. A regularly scheduled sit down together is definitely a good idea. Once a week is needed in some situations, but minimally once a month allows everyone to come with their agenda. It’s always best to talk about expectations for the business and be positive. Present a plan for change. That gives everyone something to work with and respond to.
(7) Define job roles for each partner, including accountability – clearly define the tasks for all. From this, each partner can each be accountable to himself/herself, to each other and to the business. Where there are uncovered tasks, contract or hire a specialist. The objective is to make sure all jobs are covered and accountability has been assigned and acknowledged.
On the theme of team building and partnership, last week I was introduced to another entity, 1804caribvoices.org. It gives expression to the myriad voices calling for a united and sovereign Caribbean, social justice, responsible governance and sustainable living in our region. It was initiated by a small team of faculty and graduate students based at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus. The first Committee was headed by the late Norman Girvan, Professor Emeritus (a contemporary of mine at UWI, Mona Campus) and Alexander Gittens (who is a current business colleague of mine).
May this entity and similar partnerships enjoy immeasurable success and, through their teamwork, gain the goodwill of all the people.
Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. Columns are archived at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.