Create Value with Relationship Management

Finance Business Partnering is only possible if you are great in communication and able to create an environment of trust and comfort with your closest relations. This is not easy as finance is often viewed as a specialty and a support function doing bookkeeping and standardized reporting based on requirements from the operations and executives. Your relations shall therefore be managed carefully to build a relationship that sets a perception on Finance as a Business Partner that can actively create value without instructions but through open dialogue and for your relations having an open mind on suggestions and ideas. On long-term having the opportunity to dispose better on how to utilize the finance resources.

The aim for relationship management should be to reach the state where all parties will see you as “one team” that drive the business in a positive direction. The major question is: “How do you get to this state of mind?”

Relationship mapping
First, you should know the people you should partner up with. My suggestion is to write down a summary for each of your relations containing:

1. Name and title
2. What is this person’s primary interests?
3. What can this person benefit from your input?
4. How does this person tackle your input and how do you tackle their input?
5. How can you improve the way you work together and create a two-way relationship?
6. What dialogue do you need with this partner to make you a preferred advisor?
7. What will be a success from your partnership?
8. What can you do to get there?

You will most probably discover in the process that all the people you work with should be tackled differently as everyone is different and have various interpretations of the business.

Dialogue with your partner
With basis in your relationship mapping, you should be able to figure out going forward how you should focus in your daily dialogue with your “partner to be” and build an environment of trust. Trust comes from people understanding each other and the feeling of being understood so it works two ways. It also is created from believing that your word counts. Further, trust comes from seeing that other people enable you to perform better.

You need to communicate input in a way that create a positive perception from that specific person and you need as well to act on input you receive and advise/analyze how this can be transformed into value. Remember that the purpose of the dialogue is to create the environment of trust. When you have achieved this state, I would suggest that you start building the partnership by discussing with your partner how you can actually benefit from each other by approaching the partnership in the same way and building the goals you want to achieve together as “one team”.

Maintain your partnership
A good partnership doesn’t stop as you have created it. You must maintain the partnership as the time passes and not fall back into separated routines. It is therefore important that you evaluate “on-the-go” to ensure you stay on the same page of the partnership and work as “one team”. If you start to neglect or not use each other on a continuous basis you will start to pull in different directions, so you need to be able to adjust your common goals and align on your partnership. Most important, you should never stop creating more value together.

If you update your relationship mapping after doing this, you will know you are successful as your answers to the questions should have changed especially on how both of you take input from each other. You will now be working as “one team”.

Value creation
To create value together you need to understand that you should not grow to be the same person but “one team” that see and use each other’s competences, experience and point of view.

It is important that you get out into the business and make your own impressions of what is good and bad and not only listen to your partner but as well be able to open a discussion of approach on your own. You need to ensure that the dialogue is not only started from one side of the partnership but from both sides.

See also my posts around Competencies of the Business Partner and How to be a Chief Value Officer.