3 Ways Partnership Paves the Way to Success
Great consultants or advisors all have one thing in common: They approach their work with a service mentality. They listen to their customers. They share common goals and work in partnership to achieve them. They know that when their clients win, they win. Those of us in the corporate world can learn something from this model. In fact, in my department at Northwestern Mutual, we are making it a priority this year to create more of a service culture.
What’s that mean, exactly? Here’s one example. My team’s job is to help grow the business the right way by understanding the regulatory environment that governs our industry. In other words, we’re technical experts in rules and regulations. So when we’re asked to weigh in on an issue, it would be easy enough for us to say, “Here’s the rule; you figure out how to live with it.” Instead, we want to be saying, “Here’s how I’m going to help you stay within the framework of the rule and still achieve your goal.”
By creating a service-based culture, I believe organizations benefit in three ways:
1. A service-based culture invites innovation. When you take the time to ask, “How can I help you?” you will open the doors to creative problem solving. As you get a better understanding of the challenges faced by your (internal or external) clients, you’ll uncover ways in which your skills and expertise can be applied to address those issues. In partnership, you’ll ask a lot of “what ifs” as you problem solve together; how could something be done better or more cheaply or effectively? Through that process, you will get a better understanding of the broader business and see your ability to have a positive impact on it.
2. Partnerships give rise to trust. In partnership, you’ll develop a greater appreciation for the strengths and expertise brought by each member of the team. You’ll welcome each other’s input—even seek it out—because you trust that everyone has the collective best interest at heart. This is critical for my team. I want our internal clients to proactively come to us for help when they have a question about rules or regulations; we’re more effective when we can get ahead of issues rather than clean up problems after the fact.
3. It’s more enjoyable to get to “yes.” When everyone’s on the same page and headed toward the same goal, you’ll look forward to problem-solving together. You’ll invite collaboration rather than lay down the law. You’ll remove obstacles rather than create them. You’ll pick up the phone rather than let a client’s call go to voice mail. You’ll hear your clients say, “Thank you, I couldn’t have done this without you.” All in all, you’ll just have a more enjoyable day. And in those cases when the ultimate answer is “no,” your client will know that you made the effort and that it’s “no” for a good reason.
By approaching our work with a greater awareness of whom we serve and what they need to accomplish, we won’t stand in the way of progress; we’ll help pave the way to success—in partnership.