Reach Across the Aisle Inside Your Organization
In last week's state of the union address, President Obama again asked members of congress to set aside differences and work together to address our country's challenges.
Millions watched on TV as Senators and Representatives from opposite sides of the political spectrum temporarily set aside tradition -- at least for one night -- and sat alongside their colleagues from the other party.
It got us thinking about how the distrust and rancor that has seemingly permeates Washington also exists, thankfully to a lesser degree, inside today's organizations.
We've all seen it: disagreements between sales and marketing, distrust between engineering and program management, animosity among business units. And where have these age-old organizational conflicts gotten us? Practically nowhere.
If today's organizations want to sharpen efficiencies, accelerate innovation and seize opportunities in the economic recovery, they must break down the barriers and mend the relationships that have hindered productivity and, in some cases, profitability.
Does your team have a challenging relationship with another department or project team that, with some outreach and patience, could be turned around to the benefit of the teams, the individuals and the broader business? Or has a key initiative gotten off on the wrong foot due to legacy issues and turf battles?
Why not take steps to remedy the situation -- even if it will take time, effort and renewed trust? One place to start is with visual messages, not unlike at the State of the Union.
A manager can show that she is committed to forging new internal partnerships by inviting a colleague from another department to a staff meeting periodically, including representatives from functional groups in important business reviews, or inviting an internal or external customer to a team huddle.
The visuals send a big message, however execution and follow through is critical. If improved collaboration toward business goals doesn't happen, the visual fades quickly and skepticism will return.
The one thing we know about the next period of prosperity: there will be plenty of competitors outside the organization chasing after your customers and markets. Don't let internal competition make your goals that much harder to reach.
For a humorous look at what can happen when words and deeds don't align, watch this video from the satirical news site, The Onion.
For more insights on 2-way communications, read the latest issue of our newsletter, Spectator-Free Workplace.