By Clare Gurton

Once you’ve selected an agency be sure that you are clear about the roles and responsibilities of each person and that you develop a clear action plan for the projects.

This should include the aims, the expected outcome, responsibilities, and a time schedule.

Next, make arrangements that are appropriate to the nature and purpose of the work and that will be effective in developing and maintaining relationships. Establish realistic methods to monitor and review progress regularly. Also, make sure that confidentiality is a part of all the projects the agency is and will be involved in.

There are several key factors in maintaining effective and fruitful working relationships. Among them are:

  • Trust: This is the foundation for any successful collaboration. People in trusting relationships seek input from one another (and actually use it), allowing all participants to do their jobs without unnecessary oversight. People who trust colleagues can also openly discuss successes and failures – and learn from them.
  • Diversity: Successful working relationships encourage it. Diversity broadens the number of potential solutions and enables people to learn from one another.
  • Flexibility: Keeping an open mind in working relationships is vital – it encourages new ideas and helps those involved to look for ways to continually learn and improve.
  • Respect: Respectful interactions are considerate, honest and tactful. People who respect one another value each others’ opinions and willingly change their minds in response to what others say.
  • Effective communication: Communication is an important aspect of a good working relationship – when things go silent, they frequently go wrong. Face-to-face interaction or telephone conversations are preferable to written messages with potentially unclear meanings or emotional content… and emails or memos are suitable for more routine messages. Know the importance of each and when to use them.