I’ve broken out partners as a distinct category of stakeholders, because the relationships are much different than the others in our diagram.
The simple definition of “partner” is someone who works with you to deliver value to their customers and your customers, and to their management and your management. In the case of your teammates, the customers and management might be the same. In fact, that makes decisions much easier, because you hopefully have an environment that’s aligned and supports you working together.
When the relationships cross organizational boundaries, this gets more difficult. The different groups have different priorities and measures of success, which means that each person has a different set of needs. What you’re looking for is:
- Where our needs overlap, we share some common goals and perspective.
- Where our needs differ, we are each able to support and accommodate those differences.
This helps to make a healthy, sustainable partnership – even when your partners work for a different company.
Some managers might choose to include their employees in the “partner” category rather than creating a separate bubble on this diagram. If you choose to do that, it means that you have a mindset which emphasizes that the group’s goals are most important, and your specific role is to help the team achieve those goals. You’re working more in partnership with them, rather than a more typical command and control orientation.
If it helps you to create a separate category for your team, by all means do. It can help you to clarify the unique kind of relationship that you want to create with your employees. It’s good to keep in mind that these people might be future partners, customers, or even perhaps your boss!
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Series on Workplace Dynamics
- Part 1: Understand All Your Stakeholders
- Part 2: Understand Your Suppliers
- Part 3: Understand Your Management
- Part 4: Understand Your Customers
- Part 5: Understand Your Partners
- Part 6: Understand Your Own Needs
by Carl Dierschow