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Why is Attention to Maintenance Important?

Setting and Managing On-Going Expectations of Partners

In Chapter 3: Convening and Planning we discuss the building blocks to creating and formalizing your sector partnership. In Chapter 4: Managing the Partnership we discuss coordinating logistics, decisions about staffing, initial funding strategies, organization of information, and the immediate task of maintaining momentum and energy after initial "kick-off." Each of these is important to establishing the expectations by employers and partners of the initiative’s goals and activities. Critical to on-going success is the ability by the intermediary to continue setting and managing expectations of partners while at the same time engaging them to take on specific responsibilities.

  • Maintaining Employer Involvement and Leadership. As the initiative evolves, employer engagement may shift. Some employers may become highly active around specific, targeted actions. Others may want to be involved at a higher, more strategic level. Recall the advantages of engaging CEOs in certain situations or human resource directors in others. Anticipate turnover in staff in member companies, and maintain key point people within each company for day-to-day project updates and management. Your initiative's “employer champions” should also begin to emerge clearly at this stage. Consider using them to market to other firms and lead specific activities. As discussed in further detail later in this module, always respect the time constraints of your employer members - they (particularly small-medium sized companies) have limited time to attend meetings, and generally have little patience for long "process" type meetings often typical of public partners.
  • Working with Education, Training and Economic Development. For all public partners, recognize any institutional constraints that might affect involvement with the initiative, and work around them. As with employer partners, make sure the initiative is represented by a key point person within each institution or organization. Where possible, and as the initiative evolves into clear activities, develop clear written agreements that outline roles, responsibilities, and outcomes that align with the initiative’s goals and their institutional mission statements.
  • Involving Unions and Labor Agencies. If the industry of focus is unionized, your initiative must maintain union or labor agency involvement. To get and keep unions at the table, work closely with union leadership to understand what they hope to gain by being involved and what the barriers to their involvement might be. Find ways to involve workers or garner employee input on certain issues. Agree that as the initiative evolves, certain issues are a good fit for the initiative, and others may be best reserved for the bargaining table.