Solid relationships between HR and suppliers are imperative.
Based on today’s tough and uncertain economic times, it may be cost prohibitive to change suppliers based on the investment required, so let’s take this slowed economy as an opportunity to embrace and build upon the relationships we have, versus having the mentality that we are stuck with each until the economy turns around.
As professionals, we know the importance of relationships, or lack thereof. So as we kick off 2009, let’s remember the importance and benefits of having great relationships with external teams, because good relationships can survive in both good and bad economic times. As a brief refresher, in the following text are fundamental tips, simple steps to improve existing relationships.
Well-selected, reliable suppliers with proven records of high performance certainly can help a company succeed, but HR must be committed to building good relationships with their suppliers, and this requires mental investment and time.
There is a common misconception that the amount of time required of HR to support and manage their suppliers is minimal, and additionally, we have learned that outsourcing does not mean hands-off and no-longer accountable.
Rather, outsourcing, by definition according to Merriam-Webster, is to procure goods or services needed by a business or organization under contract with an outside supplier , i.e., decided to outsource some back-office operations, or a special service such as Global Employee Mobility, Legal, or Tax.
Simply stated, outsourcing is shared accountability between the outside supplier and the company. The success of any outsourced program is a ‘joint’ effort which involves the commitment, dedication, work and timely support from both the suppliers, and HR is the corporate sponsor.Successful company / supplier relationships must evolve beyond the simple services rendered into a true business partnership.
The ideal partnership for both parties is long-term, based on open and honest communication, trust and joint-information sharing. Open communication leads to a dialogue, which leads to the building of a relationship. HR must provide the suppliers with all applicable business information as enabling the vendor to clearly understand your company, the company’s goals and HR’s goals is crucial to any programs success. Suppliers must reciprocate to ensure HR understands the full range of their services and goals. Enabling frequent, open discussions is a huge step to a solid, long-term partnership.
HR should empower the supplier to exercise judgment and experience in providing your services. Doing so requires trust, so once trust is established, processes need to be revisited. Mutual responsiveness is crucial as delayed responses may have a negative impact on the program, employee or business. Supporting the company’s employees is a common goal for both parties. From an employee’s perspective, responsiveness demonstrates true caring for their needs – what a nice message to send every day.
It is unreasonable to think that errors won’t happen! Although professionals do not wake up on the morning hoping to make mistakes, unintentional mistakes and errors happen. The way the team responds can make a positive difference, if done correctly! The expectation of ‘joint’ quick resolution is an understatement.
Having a true business partnership based on honesty, open, direct and professional communications enables both parties to jointly and quickly resolve any problems that arise. Both parties must work on errors together to provide the ultimate resolution.
Just as HR wants a "model" vendor with an account team that loves what they are doing and enjoys supporting the company, vendors want ‘model’ clients.Wouldn’t it be quite an accomplishment if both parties viewed each other as models?
In order for this to happen, both parties must have open lines of communication and share timely information on decisions that will impact one another, as you are both on the same team. HR must involve the vendors during discussions of possible changes to the program and program related projects. Ideally, this is done knowing the suppliers often provide valuable contributions to the decision-making process. After all, HR hired the suppliers as the subject matter experts. When the company’s program is successful, the supplier’s account team is also successful; we call this a win-win!
A final step to establishing great relationships is by giving thanks and recognition, which should be an obvious component to any relationship. A heartfelt phone call followed-up with a thank-you email is a meaningful gesture of appreciation.Appreciation can be given to anyone and needs to be provided more often than it is today.
As you continue to work together, pay special attention to the details of the relationship and take the time to reinvest in your existing relationships. Doing so requires one to step away from the daily chaos of emails, conference calls, and meetings; but the benefits of such efforts are priceless.
After all, in the world of HRO’s, vendors are truly HR business partners and an extension of the corporate HR team!