Are you business partnering or business pandering?
Recommended Reads | By Duncan Haughey | Read time minutes
Not long ago, I saw a situation where an IT business partner was being run ragged by the business making demands that frankly didn't make much sense. The problem was not the business but reluctance on the business partner's part to engage appropriately with the business and help them formulate a realistic approach in planning for the IT element of their project.
The role of a business partner is to help and guide the business through projects, not to pander to their every need while panicking to get things done in a limited timescale and risking the delivery of sub-standard solutions.
All too often, business partners are pandering to the business, putting unreasonable demands on their teams and expecting high quality in less time than is needed, complaining when the team are not meeting expectations.
So, what does it take to be a good business partner while still supporting the business effectively?
As a business partner, it is your responsibility to work closely with the business to help them understand the approach you will take for their project, the amount of work needed, and the complexity of that work. They do not need to understand every detail, but they need to appreciate the effort and skills required to complete any given task. Below are the qualities required for successful business partnering.
Qualities of a Good Business Partner
- Good communicator: is being able to communicate clearly and concisely with people at all levels. Good communicators ask for clarification if something is unclear and can put themselves in the other persons' shoes.
- Trustworthy: is doing what you say you will do when you say you will do it. You earn trust over time through a succession of good experiences.
- Shared vision and goals: is sharing a picture of what the future could be. It answers the question, "what do we want to create?"
- Highly motivated and passionate: is feeling strongly enough about the project to pursue it with great vigour and energy. Highly motivated and passionate people drive to work towards the best possible outcome for their projects.
- Good problem solver: is using both logic and intuition to develop solutions. Good problem solvers solve the root cause of problems and do not only address the symptoms.
- Team player: is working well with other people to do what is needed to achieve common goals. Good team players are reliable, participative, and cooperative with other team members.
- Self-confident: is believing in one's powers and judgement in a way that instils confidence in others. To be self-confident is to have a positive yet realistic view of oneself.
- Effective delegation: is the ability to trust others enough to be a little lazy and let them do the work without much checking and control.
- Strong execution: is focusing on the road ahead and the customer's desired result. It means creating an environment where people can work out how to deliver results.
- Business and market awareness: is knowing about the business and the markets in which one works. For this, it is necessary to possess the ability to talk confidently about current issues and future trends.
What to Avoid When Business Partnering
- Accepting 'false' deadlines imposed by the customer.
- Providing snap estimates under pressure in meetings.
- Blindly accepting last-minute scope changes.
- Accepting poorly defined goals and objectives.
- Cutting corners to meet unrealistic deadlines.
- Trying to satisfy every customer need, no matter how ill-advised or frivolous.
- Taking all the credit for success and blaming your team for failures.
- Letting politics get out of hand and take over your projects.
- Becoming defensive if anyone questions your approach.
- Forgetting a touch of humanity in your quest to deliver at all costs.
In conclusion, business partnering is not about jumping when the business shouts but working together to achieve the best possible results.
Recommended read: Recognising Your Internal Expertise, by Duncan Haughey.