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Change: Potential for new partnerships

As we encounter change, it can be easy to notice all of the things that are different and how difficult the different can be – especially when it comes to our partners. We may have worked with some of the same people for several years and those people are no longer in the same position or perhaps they lost their jobs or retired. We may have also just begun working with partners only to discover they have been reassigned to new duties. As a result of the changes, we may also realize that we may not have some key partners participating in our coalition or team and need to identify new ones. When I first began in my public health career, I learned very quickly that “It’s all about relationships.” This can likely be applied in most settings!  While we want to do what we can to build trust and maintain relationships, change may create opportunities for new relationships and potential partnerships.  Join me this week as I encourage you to ask 3 questions related to your potential for new partnerships.

  1. Who is missing? When we are experiencing change, it’s important for us to reflect on our priorities and what is essential for us to accomplish our coalition or partnership’s purpose. As we consider this, we may discover that there are some groups or organizations that have not participated in the past but would be a good fit for our coalition. The Stephen Covey principle of “Think Win-WinⓇ” is applicable. What are some “win-win” opportunities for these organizations and your coalition or partnership? Who can help us answer this question? Sometimes, we are “too close” to realize that some groups and organizations are missing and we need to ask a leadership team, steering committee or board of directors for their perspective. Also, when we engage others, they may be able to make the connection to a new partner.
  2. Who may be interested? In coalition work, especially if we have been in existence for several years, it’s easy to think that everyone must know who we are and if they were interested in joining, they would have reached out directly. As we consider our purpose and our priorities, we can start thinking about groups of people – or even specific people- who may be interested but have never been invited to participate. You may want to ask your coalition members for ideas to help you think of ideas. You could include this as a brief survey, as part of an email question or even during an existing meeting. It’s amazing what can happen when you start asking questions! 
  3. Who may have new representation? You may have worked with the same partners for several years and these partners have changed roles or they may be completely overwhelmed and unable to participate and engage in the same way. A few questions you may want to ask your partners include: Are you still the right representative for {name of organization}? Are there any additional people in your organization who may be a good fit for {name of coalition}? What areas would they be interested in working on together?

While change can be challenging and we genuinely miss our old partners, friends and colleagues, I encourage you to ask these questions and work with your teams and coalitions to ask these questions. You may identify some new partners who will be a great fit for your coalition, partnership or team!

So what about you? Which of these 3 questions will you ask to consider potential new partners?

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Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

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