How to Get Started Earning Internal Partnerships for Greater Corporate Stability

By Justin Hitt, Strategic Relations Consultant,

The areas most often overlooked in today's fast-paced organization are the internal partnerships. Strong internal partnerships between you and your people will bring your company greater financial and growth stability. The short definition for Internal Partnerships is as follows:

Internal partnerships are any relationship between leadership, managers, teams, or employees with a common purpose to achieve business objectives and serve the customers needs.

You might be asking, "What are the differences between internal and external partnerships." We are much more familiar with external partnerships, those partnerships between organizations. Internal partnerships are closer to you as a leader of the organization. They are built on a simple relationship based model to improve the value of your organization over time.

In a traditional business structure, complex 'chains of command' would primarily direct an organization to accomplish a certain purpose. The internal partnerships model enhances the traditional business structure to produce three relationships based layers, which form and deform based on the current business objectives.

While a traditional business structure is based on 'command and control' model -- an internal partnerships structure requires each individual to earn the right to participate in the organization. In fact, if an individual does not buy into the business objectives in an active matter, they will soon find their own reasons to leave.

Clear Examples of Internal Partnerships

To understand the structure of internal partnerships visualize a box separated into four equal parts. The upper left hand corner labeled "leadership," the upper right "teams," lower left "managers" and the lower right labeled "employees." This diagram represents the functional parts of your organization.

This diagram also defines the direct relationships from top to bottom, influential relationships from left to right, and guidance relationships from the left corner to right corner (diagonally.) Successful companies have a multi dynamic environment to fulfill the business objectives, over a top down supervisor-subordinate model of traditional business.

Important definitions in this model:

Direct relationships -- the traditional supervisor-subordinate arrangement that include reporting obligations and 'chain of command' type interactions. This relationship represents the daily assignment of work and tasking.

Influential relationships -- as far as goals and objectives of the business are concerned one group encourages the others actions. This relationship includes conveying information about company direction, customer's needs, and the long-term goals of the organization.

Guidance relationships -- an indirect influence of actions based on the organizations larger objectives. This relationship includes corporate initiatives on quality, customer service, and operational philosophies.

Examples of internal partnership relationships:

"A company's leadership influences the team's emphasis on quality, while the management guides the team's implementation, under the direction of the same leaderships."

"A company's leadership shares specific quality and cost reduction objectives which guides the efforts of individual employees, while managers influence the employee's implementation on their specific program, under the direction of individual team assignments."

"A manager guides a team's action on a certain project, while the team directs employees to take specific actions, each under the overall guidance of leadership values and vision for the company."

The partnership diagram described above has built in checks and balances to insure conveying a consistent message of business objectives and customer's needs. In fact, it eliminates some of the translation errors found in a top down management structure. Each internal partnership provides its own relationship emphasis, which encourages consistency in the original message by emphasizing a different perspective of communications.

This consistency of message improves your company's ability to make every individuals effort in the direction of business objectives, while serving the needs of each unique customer. This alignment of the organization against objectives improves the businesses profits, income, and competitive advantage.

Discover the Actions Necessary to Earn Partnerships Internal to Your Business

Earning the rights to participate with internal partnerships requires an evolutionary process extending over time starting with you, the leader in charge of an organization. For best results utilize these methods and simple actions within those things you already do in business. One sentence can capture the meaning of this entire method:

"I start with myself as an example, I teach to strengthen others, and I periodically evaluate my effectiveness to adjust my efforts."

The only dedicated time I request you provide (outside of incorporation into daily action) is a 90-minute informal session once a quarter to share successes, discuss objectives, and gain feedback from your partnership members. This should be done with each partnership in which you are involved, distributing meetings over an entire quarter. This simple meeting is your way to check on the efforts and earnings you have gained since the last meeting.

Actions for success with earning internal partnerships:

"I start with myself as an example."

1. Start with improving yourself in the soft-skills of communications, team building, and empathy.

2. Strengthen the relationships around you as your skills improve.

3. Utilize periodic partnership building sessions to share successes and gain feedback.

4. Learn to leverage partnerships types in your daily activities.

5. Develop methods to measure your improvements toward business objectives.

"I teach to strengthen others."

6. Teach managers the strategies you used to improve your relationship with them.

7. Provide frequent soft skills training in a manner that does not interrupt daily efforts.

8. Learn to integrate new knowledge into your current processes.

9. Strive to pass down an example of earning partnerships inside your organization.

10. Encourage managers to seek small wins that bring their people closer to corporate objectives.

"I periodically evaluate my effectiveness to adjust my efforts."

11. Regularly measure your progress against business objectives, customer and employee satisfaction.

12. Provide additional training based on the cross-functional relationship types.

13. Adjust your processes based on feedback from current progress.

3 Key Areas of Emphasis in Earning Internal Partnerships

There are three key areas of emphasis that must be maintained for success in earning internal partnerships. These areas are:

  1. The emphasis on a top down example. As a leader in your business, it is your responsibility to practice what you preach and do before you speak. Be an example on how these strategies work in your daily activities before even sharing this with your people.
  2. Integrating action into current interactions. The biggest failure in implementing new knowledge is thinking that it is in addition to, not an adjustment of those things you already do. Integrate this strategy into what you are already doing for lasting success.
  3. Regularly track successes and share. Without periodic measurement of your current actions, you will have no method to learn how to do better in the future. Document and track your successes over time and your company will be better for it.

Ideally, this transformation of your organization happens slowly over time. You will not see overnight results outside of the immediate relationship gains you earn with subordinate management. However, over the long term, your organization will increase its internal knowledge and work will become more focused around business objectives, and your customers' needs.

Start today in building strong internal partnerships inside your organization and you will gain greater stability over time.

© 2002 JWH Consolidated LLC dba Center for Strategic Relations, All rights reserved.
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Justin Hitt is a strategic relations consultant with the Center for Strategic Relations. He is available for limited consultative support of professional organizations serving other businesses. Call +1 (877) 207-3798 or visit

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