Partnerships with Structured Operations

14.02.20 01:55 PM By Kelly Schaefbauer

Do you have clarity, confidence and trust in your partnerships? 

I’ve recently been working with several businesses that are struggling with owner partnerships. In my last article, I described the Visionary/Integrator roles and relationships within an organization. In this article, we’ll examine how the concepts and methodologies of structured operations can minimize “partnership pitfalls.” In far too many organizations, partnerships which begin with optimism and good faith are strained by tension, conflict and mistrust, as the organization grows, evolves and changes. Wouldn’t it be great to work in a partnership that is built on clarity, confidence and trust?

One result of implementing structured operation is the establishment of defined, clear roles throughout the organization. These roles and expectations will include the partners. Roles are based on the inventory of work (tasks) which have been identified in each department of the organization, along with benchmarks—indicators that tasks are being executed in a way that serves the overall goals of the organization. As I mentioned in the last article, the Visionary/Integrator in the executive team are often partners in the business and they will most likely be playing additional roles throughout the organization. It is vital that all of these expectations are clear at the creation of the partnership.

In many cases, the heart of the conflict within partnerships is compensation. Often the value of the work a partner is doing is in question, unclear, or otherwise difficult to quantify. This uncertainty can be addressed from the beginning by using the framework of the role descriptions to value each of the partners’ contributions. Setting benchmarks at the task level can support the assignment of the value of each partner’s individual contributions.

To keep an eye on performance, we recommend that a partner’s performance is evaluated no differently than the other employees within the organization. This includes following the support hierarchy. So, what about the Visionary who sits at the top of the organization? Who will complete their evaluation? In a formal corporation, the board provides oversight of the CEO, so they would be tasked with the evaluation of the Visionary’s performance. If the organization is less formal, the advisory board could complete this oversight, or an outside, impartial third party can be hired. This is a service that Aligned Operations offers.

Do you have clarity, confidence and trust in your partnerships? If your answer is no, consider implementing structured operations as a framework to determine each of the roles, set fair, market-driven compensation structures and guide the oversight of each partners’ performance in the future.