Last week, I wrote about the TESI® and that one of the demographics it looks at is “department.” The reason I think it’s important to take a look at why department matters when assessing team Emotional Intelligence or any workplace conflict is that it often seems to be the least discussed!
We often hear about and discuss conflicts with our co-workers - those co-workers we work alongside every day, those that have similar job requirements and tasks to us, and those that play a role in the company we somewhat understand. However, what happens when the conflict is not with an immediate co-worker but instead with a different department? An example of this could be frustration in how long IT is taking to fix something, feeling ignored from accounting over a question about a paycheck, or HR not responding to a complaint you made months ago. What if the reason is not personal but rather due to lack of knowledge in how the other department operates?
While team building is, thankfully, such a focus during onboarding and through company retreats, there always seems to be a missing piece. Learning about the role other departments have within the company, what they perform that your department cannot, and how all the departments complement one another. This lack of understanding of other departments can create conflict within an organization. So how do you prevent it?
First and foremost, like most things in life, education is vital! Without teaching the departments about one another, they cannot fault them for feeling in conflict with another. Explaining what each department does and how they do it might seem unimportant during onboarding, but down the road when the Communications Department is having a hard time communicating with IT, they might recall some unique departmental things they learned in the past.
Second, create a culture where interaction is encouraged. If your company can afford it, host after-hour events that include all departments. Have a breakroom that is companywide rather than a coffee pot in each department. Consider having mentors from different departments!
Third, respect starts from the top! Management needs to show that they respect and value all departments. Ways to do this include hold companywide meetings at multiple times so members from all departments can feel included. Also, highlight top performers and recognize those from each department in a companywide newsletter.
Fourth, host meetings that include members from multiple departments. Including diverse voices can allow for them to work together to solve a solution and also gain an understanding of what the other does. Bonus: This can be a time when management realizes that some tasks might be being performed multiple times by multiple departments and can, therefore, save everyone time but assigning to only one. Understanding the different roles that others play can help dissolve envy or competition.
Fifth, bring in someone to perform a cultural analysis on your company. If there is conflict, professionals can identify it and provide solutions to fix it and make a stronger organization.
We would be happy to help with interdepartmental team building or organizational culture assessments. Please reach out (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you feel there are interdepartmental issues at your place of work and we can explore how we can partner together to address them!