Mid-Level managers may not set strategy and vision nor are they just learning how to delegate, motivate and influence. Strong managers at this level are strong internal partners. They understand the benefits of internal collaboration. They understand that partnerships don’t simply happen because everyone works for the same organization. Organizational charts are nice but they have little to do with how peope actually work together or get along with one another. Working alongside oone another is hardly a guarantee that you will develop a good partnership.
Not only are there techniques that are required to enhance a partnership, but they must be practiced, and honed to increase the benefit of peer collaboration.
- Control Your Controlling – Being a partner requires give and take. There is no ‘boss.’ Resist the urge to direct which is a popular pitfall for managers. Watch for clues that other people are feeling pushed around. Ask open-ended questions – and they stop talking and listen to the answer.
- Socialize – To manage is to be social. The more time you spend together, the more natural partnering will feel. The more you know someone, the more likely you will develop trust. AND – the more they get to know you, the more likely they will see you as trustworthy. It’s a two way street. Since good communication is an essential part of strong partnerships, all of the skills involved need to be cultivated as well. You are more likely to partner with people you know well so whether you are outgoing or shy, collegial relationships are the building blocks for internal partnerships. Schmoozing pays off. (As long as you don’t come off as a phoney.)
- Patch the Past – Your past follows you around and if you have had previous relationship issues you need to resolve them and put them behind you in order to develop a good foundation for the present and the future. While not everyone wants to improve relationships, you should try. If you have tried everything and the past issues can not (or will not) be resolved, try to work with others if possible.
- Mom Would Be Proud – Mom used to say (MY mom anyway) “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all. “ Never speak badly about your peers to others. It reflects poorly on you when you do it and can burn needed bridges within your firm. You can disagree – but communicate it directly to the person you don’t agree with.
- Own It – Don’t pass the buck. No one likes to be blamed for problems and shifting the blame won’t win you any fans.
- Share Credit – Success in partnerships comes from collaboration so everyone gets the credit. Success is always a joint effort. If everyone feels part of the success, it can create positive energy going forward.
- Know Their Desire – Good partners understands needs, goals, and concerns of the people with whom they work on a regular basis. What keeps them up at night? What are their strengths and areas for development? What frustrates them? What do you expect from them? What do they expect from you (and your department)?
As a peer and an internal resource if you can become an advocate for your colleagues, you can add value in their pursuit for results. Don’t doubt for one minute that being a valuable internal partner doesn’t reflect well on you and your employees. You can extend the reach of your employees and create powerful alliances that serve the organization.