They say that breaking up is hard to do
Now I know I know that it’s true
Don’t say that this is the end
Instead of breaking up I wish that we were making up again
This is the famous chorus to Neil Sedaka’s “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” which was recorded back in the 1960s. It has a catchy little tune and after hearing the song, the chorus replays over and over in your head until you find another song to re-direct your brain’s focus.
February is filled with shades and colors of red which often represent feelings of love, passion, desire, strength and leadership. However, some say the color red may be linked to the most primitive physical, emotional and financial need for survival and self-preservation. In the business world, it may represent power and courage. The color red has been seen as the basis of the traditional red power tie or suit, red lipstick, red high heels, as well as the red carpet for celebrities and VIPs, CEOs, CFOs, etc. Red is very appealing and eye-catching. A red rose without thorns is a symbol of passion, love and romance. While a red rose with thorns typically exemplifies the struggle and challenges associated with the journey of love, meaning that it can be joyous, fulfilling and delicate, but also as painful and cruel.
I believe in the business world we experience the same feelings connecting business to business. Often times business relationships may resemble. When things are good and there is value added, we feel a bond and a connection to the business. When challenges arise and businesses break-up or discontinue the relationship, we feel the pain as the relationship comes to an end. Here are a few steps to remember when considering a new business relationship:
1. Identify the key stakeholders: When starting a business relationship it is important to determine the internal and external stakeholders and how their influence effects business decisions. It is important to build relationships with these key stakeholders so that you can learn their ideas and motivations and detect any “hidden agendas” that may interfere with the relationship.
2. Develop strategic objectives: Every organization should be driven by innovation and be able to keep up with new technologies. It’s critical to develop a forward-thinking vision and build business relationships with the future in mind.
3. Map out the plan: Developing a road map that lays out the plan with specific timelines enables the organization to see further into the future so you can reframe the established vision, provide ways to identify new opportunities, celebrate successes and champion the future-focused strategies.
4. Build relationships and influence: Working innovatively with the company to provide high quality, compassionate, safe and coordinated data both accessible and lean is critical. Creating a team culture that involves engagement between the businesses is empowering. Showing the company your expertise and proving your worth is an excellent way to build a strong, positive relationship.
5. Produce results: In every business relationship, identifying the financial impact and return on investment is essential to establishing financial strength in the relationship. This information needs to be communicated in several ways and the reports/documents created need to outline the initial vision and key strategic objectives. Each objective needs to be considered in the report and the report must outline the financial performance. Graphs are a great way to create a dashboard or a visual cue outlining the company’s performance and investment. This helps to build the value between the businesses.
6. Communicate frequently: We all know that communication is key, so when you develop a new partnership, it is important to communicate more frequently. Although communication typically consists of feeding the company the data, it is important that we practice humble inquiry and ask, listen and focus. A catch-ball process that includes asking open-ended questions, listening attentively and focusing/concentrating on the person speaking will create a powerful experience. Communicating weekly and then progressing to monthly or quarterly is a great way to transition the communication process. Actively listening for how the company wants information shared is the most important component of communication.
Business breakups are hard, but if we practice these techniques build value that they can’t get anywhere else, they are sure to return. I believe Bill Gates said it well, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” If you follow the vision and leave them with something they cannot get anywhere else, they will realize that what they once had is irreplaceable, and in the end … ”they always come back.”