How to Find Key Partners to Turbo-Charge Your Impact

05.06.2020 |

Episode #6 of the course Managing your manager by Jordan Thibodeau and Joe Ternasky


“The truth is that key influencers exist in all effective organizations, but a solid-line org chart won’t tell you where they are.” —Chris Fussell


Welcome back!

In our last lesson, we covered how to become great at delivering bad news. In this lesson, we will talk about how to identify your key partners and what roles they play in your work life.


Realizing the Power of Partnerships

The underlying idea behind a partnership is that you want to meet (or exceed) your manager’s expectations for your role. Your manager will observe your performance directly and hear feedback from the other people you work with. These people are likely to be your peers, your large customers, or your manager’s peers. They are your key partners: people your manager trusts and receives feedback from regarding your performance. Hence, you want to identify who these people are and what they want from you and your team so that you can impress your manager. By proactively solving their problems, you positively influence the feedback they will give your manager about you.

By meeting your key partners’ requirements, you are indirectly meeting your manager’s requirements. This brings us to our goals for this lecture: to identify your key partners in advance, to classify what kind of partner each of them will be, and to understand what each key partner expects from you. Be sure that you and your manager agree on who your key partners are, what kind of partners they are, and what their expectations are.


How Do You Find Your Key Partners?

The following are methods you can use to identify your key partners:

Ask your manager. Because your manager is a level above you, chances are good that they already see and know about everything that is going on around you. Whether one of your peers has to be categorized as your competitor, some of your co-workers wish to see more of your work, or all of your clients are singing your praises, your manager knows it all. Your manager is therefore the best person to ask for a well-rounded opinion about who you should consider your key partners to be.

Observe your manager. Based on how your manager interacts with other employees you can begin to see who he values the most and respects. Aslo, in your team meetings your manager might bring up certain employees that they think are doing a great job and are critical for your team’s success.

Speak to your colleagues. Ask your colleagues who they consider their key partners to be, then ask them about your manager’s key partners. Your colleagues will have seen your manager interact with other employees and will be able to let you know which ones your manager cherishes and which he’s indifferent about.


Important Questions for Your Key Partners

Asking questions is one of the best ways to identify, classify, and understand your key partners. Here are some questions to consider:

• Do you think this person plays a key role in your day to day activities? If so, what kind of partner are they?

• Is this person your customer? Are you their customer?

• Are both of you collaborating on something that will be delivered to another customer?

• What are this person’s goals?

• Are their goals in sync with yours? What goals do they want you to pursue?

• Are there any problems that they don’t know how to solve?


Balancing Your Goals, Your Manager’s Goals, and Your Key Partners’ Goals

Your key partners’ goals might be aligned (or in conflict) with your goals, your manager’s goals, or your other key partners’ goals. Your key partners’ expectations should be ranked just below your manager’s requirements, with a possible exception for requirements from your manager’s superiors in the company. As long as every key partners’ goals are aligned, meeting everyone’s expectations at once is possible.


To Do

1. Use your Managing Your Manager Journal to list your key partners.

2. Then look for alignments or conflicts between your goals, your manager’s goals, and your key partners’ goals and answer the following questions:

a. How can you take full advantage of strong goal alignments, especially those that include your manager’s goals?

b. Are there any ways to eliminate strong goal conflicts, especially those involving you or your manager?

c. How can you receive feedback from your key partners?

Now that you understand the importance of identifying your key partners, it’s time to learn how to fit in with them. Our next lesson will be about the importance of your company’s culture.


Jordan and Joe

Managing Your Manager Teachers


Recommended book

Your Network Is Your Net Worth: Unlock the Hidden Power of Connections for Wealth, Success, and Happiness in the Digital Age by Porter Gale


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