Fostering Excellence
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  Five Habits of the Successful Liaison

If you have become a liaison for your company, congratulations! This implies your company trusts you to maintain and improve important inter-organizational relationships, trusts you to have a deep understanding of your own company’s needs and processes, and trusts you work independently to further your organization’s interests. Those are large and important responsibilities.

Liaison engagements have a lot of potential to benefit your company, but they also come with a risk. Your company will be judged by how the liaison herself behaves. When the liaison does well, the company benefits; conversely, when a liaison does a poor job, the entire company suffers. The great news is that there are simple guidelines that all liaisons can adhere to in order to make the most of their experience and do a superb job in their role as a liaison.

Dress the part – It will be important to dress in ways that allow you to mix well with the organization you are imbedded with. Whatever their dress code is, you will want to wear clothing that fits in with that culture. Stakeholders should feel comfortable around you. Make sure that whatever you wear allows you to maximize interactions while also dressing in a way that allows for stakeholders to see you as a professional they can trust.

Focus on Face Time -  As a liaison, the bulk of your work will be interacting with people. You will be communicating needs, expectations and desires across organizations. Building trust and being able to elicit the needs or concerns of the stakeholders involved requires a solid relationship. Make sure you spend a lot of face time getting to know folks and building that trust. When there is a conflict, you will want to have a positive history to rely on in order to resolve the conflict quickly and amicably.

Don’t forget who you work for – It is easy for a liaison to forget who they work for. It is not uncommon for liaisons to become more sympathetic to the needs of those immediately surrounding them than the needs of their home organization. Remember, you work for your company, not the organization you are imbedded with. While it is important to maintain good relations between two organizations, and is in good form to make sure that the needs of both organizations are met, ultimately you are working for the best interest of your company and you need to put them first.

Stay in contact your company – Out of sight, out of mind. If you working day-to-day away from your company you will need to make a concerted effort to maintain good communication between you and the company. Communication rituals like weekly progress updates from you, daily calls or monthly VTC’s can go a long way to keeping communication open and robust. Your company will need continual context that you can provide in order to make the best decisions.

Focus on process improvement – Having a deep understanding of your own company, and being imbedded in your stakeholder organization, you have a fantastic opportunity to optimize processes. You are well placed to indentify inefficiencies or short cuts that can save both the organizations money and time. While you are facilitating the organizational transactions between both companies, look for opportunities to improve the processes at work!

Being a liaison can be a lot of fun; strengthening inter-organizational relationships in win-win scenarios is deeply satisfying work. To ensure you are as successful as possible, make sure you dress the part, have a lot of face time with stakeholders, and communicate often with the home company. Look for opportunities to improve processes and above all, have fun!

Michael Farr, PMP, is a Chief Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and founder of He is passionate about recognition and enabling professionals to motivate their organizations through recognizing their member’s excellence. When he is not slaying dragons with his kids, he can be found at @fosterxcellence on Twitter and @fosteringexcellence on Facebook.

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