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Social partners refer to people who are companions in a special working relationship who talk, help resolve their differences and work together to achieve an enlarged goal with a bid to increase the financial pie of a business.

In simple terms, to be a social partner is to be in companionship with someone, hence Labour and Management are social partners. They are people with the power to negotiate with and whose actions can change the strategic future of an organization for the common good of the two parties.

The overall aim of this partnership is to support, create, enlarge the financial health, generate growth and also agree on a sharing formula for the profit acquired. They must agree to create and remain a winning team in order to generate growth and profit. They should be engaged in acceptable criteria for conversation based on relevant information sharing to learn how to brainstorm to generate options and reach a consensus on all matters that come before them.

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In the absence of this, what will exist in this relationship will be a traditional adversarial relationship between the two parties or there will be series of disastrous occurrences if one of the parties withholds relevant information or ignores the interests and concerns of the other partner.

To be oblivious of the growing dissatisfaction of the other partner can be extremely costly. This can lead to non-achievement of organizational objectives as the other partner may fail to fully implement the goals of the organization.

Failure to attend to the information, interest and concerns of those in social partnership is a flaw in the relationship and predictably leads to poor performance, actual failure and even bankruptcy.

However, both partners must learn how to communicate, negotiate, provide leadership and reach a consensus in resolving differences.

The key objective is to stay focused and live by a set of principles that will govern the relationship. Crucial among the principles that should bind this partnership is the GHOST Principles, the Principles of Labour-Management-Cooperation, and possessing listening and speaking skills. GHOST is an acronym for Gentle, Honest Open, Specific Talk, the protocol for negotiating conversations between social partners with Appreciative Inquiry in Action.

It means parties of a conversation have to be Gentle in expressing themselves; speaking gently allow others to listen and gives room for a change of mind as you listen for new information. Parties must be Honest and share relevant information and keep no secret on issues relating to the effectiveness of their relationship. They must be Open to the other partners point of view on issues at stake, be Specific by clarifying and making sure that whatever they say is understood by the other party without making assumptions. Also, both social partners must keep open channels of communication to Talk about relevant issues that bound them.

The principles of Labour-Management-Cooperation provides an opportunity for social partners to jointly brainstorm on policies which govern their relationship and what could be done to make changes to suit their present circumstances. These principles should be seen as a long-term effort designed to improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness and not merely as a means to create different management.

In order to achieve cooperation among social partners, adequate safeguards should be built into the process including joint control, a written agreement, fundamental fairness and adherence to the principles of Labour-Management-Cooperation.

Labour-Management-Cooperation can aid positive change and transformation, and should be flexible enough to withstand adjustments in the face of shocks in the global market.

One of the major challenges in social partnership is the obliviousness of one partner (management) often referred to as the vital few overlooking the importance of the other partner (workers) and often disregarding their concerns .

However, the best approach for a successful partnership is for both parties to engage based on the above principles.

The benefit of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship between social partners is innumerable both to the organization and the parties involved. Vital among them is teamwork, achievement of key organizational objectives, increased productivity, job satisfaction and ownership of the organizational vision as both parties work towards a common goal.