Communicate often and openly to build trust with your partners
- Communicate with partners about progress, results, completion of work, when things are going well, when there are issues and what’s being done to address and resolve them.
- Be proactive when employee/s work on projects with partner divisions; stay informed about deliverables to anticipate where issues may arise.
- Avoid surprises; respond early to unexpected problems before issues escalate or a deadline is missed.
- Be accessible and available to meet with partners when there are issues and concerns. Establish a standing meeting if this helps keep communication open and ongoing.
- Respond non-defensively when there is criticism about you or your employee; focus the discussion with your partner on finding a resolution that will be satisfactory for those involved and will support project success.
- Consult with your HR Division Partner and/or division management to work through communication challenges.
Agree with partners on priorities and work schedule
- Assess the true needs of the project: what’s most important to complete, what are the real deadlines, where might there be flexibility in the schedule without compromising efforts.
- Discuss what’s involved regarding time and effort to ensure your partner has realistic expectations.
- Discuss how best to utilize the employee’s time, skills and expertise given time requested for the assignment or project.
- Verify the amount of time your partner will need from your employee on the program or project.
- Know your own bandwidth; be honest in your ability to achieve or deliver on commitments.
- Renegotiate scope/schedule in advance of the due date to reset expectations if conditions change.
Say “no” to others without undermining their objectives
- Provide data, information or scenarios on what it will take to meet project needs so your partner has realistic expectations of what’s involved in getting the work done.
- Describe what you can do or did do to meet expectations.
- Describe what you cannot do and why you can’t deliver what is needed or expected.
- Discuss alternative ways to proceed to make progress rather than just saying “no”.
- Discuss why something is needed or value-added.
- Discuss anticipated costs and/or expected results.
- Re-prioritize and shift tasks around where possible in order to meet partner needs and deadlines.
- Accommodate requests so in the future you can ask them to accommodate yours where possible.
If necessary, be the buffer between the employee and partner
- Discuss with your employee the partner’s concerns, what may be causing or contributing to issues on the project or program, what the partner is dissatisfied about regarding the employee’s performance.
- Gather additional information or perspectives you and the employee may need to fully understand the situation from the partner’s perspective.
- Discuss with the employee ways s/he can meet expectations.
- Encourage the employee to be honest about concerns and project status.
- Coach the employee on what to say to renegotiate priorities, results expected and schedule.
- Contact your partner directly if you think the employee can’t advocate on his or her own behalf or if the situation has escalated and requires your involvement.