At some point, nearly every organization needs to hire an outside vendor or consultant.
Maybe you need help with accounting or a website redesign. Maybe you need someone to help you organize an upcoming event; or maybe you need someone to lead your team training.
Whatever you need, be sure to seek a partner – and not just a vendor or a consultant.
What’s the difference?
It starts with intent.
At Reach Partners, we often step in when a business’s internal team is too stretched to complete a job or when an organization needs our expertise in planning and problem-solving.
We’ve been asked to determine the best way to move 18,000 people from numerous parking lots to an event site in less than three hours. Our clients have asked us to organize community conversations and to keep a panel of experts on task.
Every single time, we see ourselves as partners.
For us, being a partner means we’re a seamless extension of our client. We bring value and structure to a process, but we don’t take it over. In fact, we secretly celebrate when a client’s clients or colleagues don’t even know we’re part of the process.
And yet, we are more than the secret behind-the-curtain wizard.
So, how do you know when you’ve hired an actual partner – and not just somebody who treats the job as one more thing on a to-do list?
1. They share new ideas. A project partner brings new energy and a new perspective to your work. One benefit of hiring a partner is that – for a period of time – you’ve expanded your team. As valuable as your everyday employees are, an outside partner can ignore office politics and the noise of daily work life to get a project done creatively
2. They bring focus. A partner has laser focus on the scope of the project and what needs to be delivered. They are a no-excuses-let’s-get-this-done team member who only has eyes for the project and can put the brakes on getting pulled into another sideline project.
3. They understand who owns the project. At the end of the day, it’s your project. Good partners take pride in helping you achieve your goals. Ultimately, however, they understand that it is your project, not theirs. It’s about you, your relationships, your team, your outcome and needs. A partner doesn’t steal the thunder.
4. They listen – and speak up. A successful partner will work alongside your staff and use the processes you’ve set in place. A partner will pay attention and actively listen to uncover the insights and untapped potential that will help your project succeed. And, because they’re good partners, they’ll also recommend changes if they think there’s a better way to do something.
5. They’ll help you reach your goals and more. A partner delivers more than you expect. Sure, they complete what was agreed upon, but do it in such a way that it felt like more. They make the work feel effortless and collaborative and fun. You bask in the compliments and can pat yourself on the back for choosing great partners.
Enjoy your partnerships!
Editor’s note: Adapted from a blog originally published in March 2017.