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Therapy for Broken Outsourced Service Relationships

Sometimes service provider relationships just aren't going well, but it's a little hard to see how to make it better. Rather than wait for the last straw to finally break the outsourcing relationship, it is possible to rescue an outsourced service relationship gone sour. According to Bruce Skaistis of Skaistis Consulting, there are five major steps to repair a troubled outsourcing relationship. I know a lot of this might sound like couples therapy, but if you think about it, partnerships between people, whether personal or professional, inevitably share some common threads.

The first thing to do is de-emotionalize the situation. The only way to correct problems in a troubled relationship is to take the emotion out of the discussion and have both parties coming at the problem looking for a win-win solution.

Once emotions are in check, it’s time to re-evaluate the expectations and objectives established at the outset of the contract. If these expectations were never clearly defined or were unrealistic to start with, a win-win situation could not be achieved.

Before the meeting, figure out what potential courses of action might be. It is important to understand the organization's options for dissolving the relationship to determine what leverage facility managers have for getting it back on course. Facility managers should know what they want and understand what the service provider wants as well. This is the underlying principle for negotiating.

Diving into the options is the only way to address the issue at hand. Once emotions have been quieted and expectations have been delineated, it is necessary to talk about options. Facility managers should start by expressing dissatisfaction with the relationship and stating that the purpose of the meeting is to get the relationship back on a positive course.

The word "attorney" should not be part of the discussion. This is the time for both parties to roll up their sleeves and get to work hammering out a new relationship.

If you get to this point and manage to salvage the relationship, make a pact to communicate and be an effective provider manager so you don’t end up in the same spot again.


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