The governance structure of your partnership can influence your partnership’s performance and leadership, your partners’ productivity and engagement, and the partnership’s success in accessing resources. That makes it a pretty important feature of your partnership.
Because partnership leaders perceive its importance, governance structures often become more complex than they need to be!
How do you know if your governance structure isn’t working? Here is a list of typical symptoms you might be experiencing with your partners that illuminates the need to address your partnership governance.
- Partners feel dis-empowered, unimportant, or ‘unheard’
- Partners feel there is a lot of ‘red tape’ when they want to try something new
- Partners are not able to make decisions quickly
- Partners don’t involve the right people in decision making
- Partners report a lack of communication and sharing
- Partners feel they are asked to attend meetings they don’t need to attend
- Partners miss opportunities because they are too busy deciding and not doing
- Partners are confused about their roles and responsibilities
- Partners feel there is a lack of accountability
- Partners complain about ‘too much paperwork’
- Partners talk more about ‘rules and policies’, instead of ‘values and priorities’
- Partners don’t understand the rules and policies because they are not written in plain language
- Partners feel there is a lack of trust, respect and reciprocity
- New partners hesitate joining your partnership because of the politics
Partnership leaders experience a tension when they want to ensure roles, responsibilities and accountabilities are clearly managed, while also maintaining a level of ‘common sense’. So, how do you strike a balance between a governance structure that is both robust and flexible?
Here are two ways to simplify the governance structure of your partnership.
1. Engage all partners in developing a governance structure after the priorities of the partnership have been identified. If you’re like most partnerships, your partners focused on creating a governance structure before they clarified the vision of the partnership and defined its priorities or objectives. This is common because it’s human nature to learn the rules of the game before we agree to play the game.
Separate the process of developing a governance structure, from the process of discovering the purpose and priorities of the partnership. Figure out where you are going first, and then decide on the governance structure that will best help you get there. This will increase the likelihood of creating a structure driven by your objectives, and not the other way around.
2. Develop a governance structure that is parsimonious, requiring the fewest rules and policies. Regardless if you decide on a structure that is hierarchical or non-hierarchical (both have benefits and drawbacks), reduce the red tape and paperwork that goes along with it. Here are a few questions you can ask to help simplify your governance structure:
- How do we ensure partners’ perspectives are ‘heard’?
- Is there a better way to distribute power and influence across the partners?
Make sure your governance structure is built to support the purpose of the partnership, not the other way around.
©2016 Enette Pauzé & Level 8 Leadership Institute. All rights reserved.
- Posted by Enette Pauzé
- On May 24, 2016