Management Matters: Be a Perfect Internal Partner

Understanding the value and the benefits of internal collaboration and knowing that these things don’t just happen because the organizational chart says it should can set up strong managers to be strong internal partners. However, simply working alongside other managers is not a guarantee that a good partnership will be developed.

Not only are there techniques that are essential to the creation of an enhanced partnership; they must be practiced and honed to increase the benefit of peer collaboration.

To build strong internal partnership with colleagues:

  • Control Your Controlling – Being a partner requires give and take. There is no ‘boss.’ Resist the urge to direct. Watch for clues that others are feeling pushed around. Ask open-ended questions, stop talking, listen to the answer, and then ask follow-up questions.
  • Socialize- Managing is a social activity and the more time you spend together, the more natural partnering will feel. The more you know someone, the more likely it is that you will develop trust. Since good communication is an essential part of strong partnerships, these skills will be cultivated as well in the process. You are more likely to partner with people you know well so whether you are outgoing or shy, collegial relationships are the building blocks for internal partnerships. Make time to be friendly.

  • Patch the Past – Your past follows you around. If you have had previous relationship issues, you must resolve them and put them in the past in order to develop a good foundation for the present and the future. While not everyone wants to improve things, you should try. If you have tried everything and the past issues can’t (or will not) be resolved, everyone may be better off if you try to work with others if at all possible.

  • Mom Would Be Proud – My Mom used to say “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all. “ Never speak badly about your peers to others. It reflects poorly on you when you do it and can burn needed bridges within your organization. You can disagree, but you should communicate that directly to the person you don’t agree with.

  • Own It – Don’t pass the buck. No one likes to be blamed for problems and shifting the blame won’t win you any fans.

  • Share Credit – Success in partnerships comes from collaboration soeveryone gets the credit for wins. In partnerships, success is always a joint effort. If everyone feels part of the success, it can create positive energy going forward.

  • Know Their Desire – Good partners understand what the needs, goals and concerns are of the people with whom they work on a regular basis. What keeps them up at night? What are their strengths? What are the areas that could use development? What frustrates them? What do you expect from them? What do they expect from you (and your department)?

If you can become an advocate and a booster for your colleagues, you can add value in their pursuit for results. Don’t doubt for one minute that being a valuable internal partner won’t reflect well on you and your employees. You can extend the reach of your employees and create powerful alliances that serve everyone and your organization a well.

Joni Daniels is Principal of Daniels & Associates, a management training and development consulting practice that specializes in developing human resources in the areas of leadership and management training, interpersonal effectiveness and efficiency, skill- building, and organizational development interventions. With over 25 years of experience, she is a sought after resource for Fortune 500 clients, professional organizations, higher education, media outlets and business publications. Joni can be reached at

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