All the above questions are centred upon a partnership’s internal needs, processes and relationships, and because almost all of them involve the facilitation and management of interpersonal relationships, they can take time to explore, understand and address effectively. Any stakeholders observing a partnership during this time could be forgiven for thinking that it had ground to a halt and become nothing more than a talking shop. In fact, this talk is laying the foundations for future success.
Perceive the latency phase positively, acknowledging the crucial role it plays in helping a partnership develop and realise its potential.
Meeting partners on their own patch and at times that fit in with their day to day activities can of itself go a long way towards building trust, gaining better social and cultural understanding, and appreciating differing expectations and communication needs. It will also highlight the practical challenges presented by the locality and environment within which the partnership is working.
Create a shared sense of partnership time. This is perhaps the most abstract but in many ways one of the most powerful things a partnership can do to help ensure its safe and productive passage through the latency phase. We all perceive the passing of time in different ways. These perceptions are influenced by the cultures we live and work within and how important or central an issue or subject is to us. If we are used to working within a fast paced environment we will become frustrated if results are not achieved quickly. If we are used to a slower pace, then not achieving results quickly will not worry us so much. If an issue is important to us it can often, regardless of the actual amount of time involved, feel as if ages are passing before it is addressed. If an issue is not important to us then the amount of time passing before it is addressed is of little or no personal significance, so even long periods of inactivity can go by almost unnoticed.
These differing perceptions of time and the significance of its passing will all be interacting with each other as a partnership comes together and goes through its latency phase. If these perceptions are not managed effectively they will cause mutual frustration, misunderstandings and perhaps even conflict.
Encouraging partners to think explicitly about how they perceive, react to and use the time they spend working together will discourage unhelpful preconceptions about what should be happening by when. It will help create a new, shared sense of pace and time that is appropriate to a partnership, what it needs to achieve and how it needs to achieve it.
Discussions about partners' expectations and obligations, together with discussions about the balance and timing of rewards allocated to partners, are practical ways to create this shared sense of partnership time.
For more about collaboration go to: Sleeping-with-the-Enemy-Achieving-Collaborative-Success-2nd-Edition