Partnerships result in a well-defined relationship between people that involves close cooperation, defined roles and responsibilities, and rights for all parties involved. Partnerships stand for two or more people being mutually bound together, working to achieve a common goal, through both the good and tough times. And, they define the strongest of relationships that are not easily broken, and function in a manner that serves the best interests of everyone involved.
There is a science to establishing and maintaining partnerships in any type of relationship, be it among business colleagues, customers, friends or family members. A good, solid partnership requires that each party be able to satisfy two categories of needs: personal and organizational. (See table at right.)
Meeting only the personal needs of another party in a relationship forms a friendship, while satisfying only the organizational needs creates a vendor relationship—neither creates a successful partnership. In relationships that fulfill neither category of need, outsider status is achieved, which results in no meaningful association with the other party.
This article explores the two types of relationship needs, personal and organizational. Learning to better serve both categories of needs will help a glass company owner or manager develop stronger relationships, resulting in better operations and business performance.
Personal needs refer to the social and emotional aspects of a relationship. They often refer to the set of behaviors that causes one to be liked. When a person satisfies the personal needs in a relationship, they earn the title “friend.” When you’re a friend to someone, they’ll always return your calls, invite you to a ball game, send you a Christmas card and help light the candles on your birthday cake; you are definitely liked.
However, fulfilling only the personal needs of a relationship is insufficient in forming a partnership. The relationship won’t foster growth and necessary change with that person’s life, with only the personal needs being met. In business, that person’s performance will not grow or improve. Or, the person might not fulfill their legally defined obligations. Within a family, a child raised with only their personal needs being met might not grow up to become responsible or self-sufficient.
To be more than a friend—to be a true partner—requires also meeting a person’s organizational needs.
Think of organizational needs as the task side of a partnership. Depending on the type of relationship, these partnership tasks might include tying one’s shoes, hitting a baseball, starting the lawn mower, doing blueprint take-offs, adjusting a door closer, completing a profit and loss statement, etc. Organizational needs are just as important as personal needs and require the same level of attention and work as personal needs if a partnership is to be earned. People who do well at meeting the organizational needs of others are those who add talent and value to the lives of their recipients, which causes them to improve and grow in becoming greater and more independent in what they pursue.
However, to only be good at delivering on organizational needs makes a person a “vendor” in a partnership. A vendor is someone who knows much and delivers the goods but has no ability to relate to the participant. The vendor is unable to establish any form of comfortable relationship within the partnership. The result is a relationship that will only last until the specific task is completed. Kids leave home, customers find new suppliers and employees seek more gainful employment.
Proper balance in meeting both sets of needs in a relationship is critical. It’s important to start with personal needs and then quickly move into the organizational side of needs. The outcome is a relationship that is mutually beneficial—a relationship that fosters growth and achievement, and is built on a foundation of friendship.
I would close with a reminder that partnerships are rented and never owned. Relationships require constant attention to meeting both sets of needs, which change over time. Make sure to pay your regular dues to all partnerships, and watch how much greater the results will be.