How Things Get Done: One Strategy for Reducing Workplace Conflicts
Having the opportunity to work with so many outstanding companies, I’ve noticed some unique challenges and many more that are all too common. Among the latter are issues surrounding conflicts between individuals and departments. While these are often chalked up to “personality problems,” upon investigation and discussion, I find they are most often due to a lack of understanding and awareness of what actually goes on in different departments and how the work there gets done.
Not long ago, one organization I was working with took a different approach. We determined that each operating department would organize and present to the entire staff an overview of their responsibilities, how the work was distributed among the team members within the department and, most importantly, how they relied on other departments to accomplish their tasks.
They decided to have some fun with it, each department looking to outdo the other with their PowerPoints, graphics, handouts and, yes, even refreshments. Everyone participated in their department’s presentations, describing in detail how their individual responsibilities flowed into the work of the team.
The staff was encouraged to offer feedback and ask questions during and after each department presentation. The overall participation was well beyond anything typically seen at previous full staff meetings. And the results went well beyond expectations.
The questions, comments and suggestions were additive and brought about deeper discussion and even follow-up conversations.
Afterward, I met with the senior team leaders to get their take on these sessions. They were delighted by the level of participation prompted by each of the presentations. But they were most astonished by how much they had learned.
The company CEO/owner was particularly taken with the fact that he finally understood why his head of IT couldn’t manage to get around to updating the company website. “It’s all he can do to be sure everyone’s computers fire up when they come in each day,” he said. “I had no idea!”
What could you, your leadership group and your entire team learn from such an exercise? More importantly, consider how an increased level of understanding of the responsibilities, deadlines and pressures faced by team members in different departments will help reduce the number of conflicts and general discord that hinders so many organizations.
For more information on how to better align your organizations, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.