ORG Blog

Working Together—Not Against


Why Minding Your Own Business Doesn’t Work In Business.

The very idea of working together implies not working against, however this is not always the case. When it comes to collaboration, sometimes people get the idea that they are merely working alongside someone on a project or endeavor—not really as partners or teammates, but as individuals contributors.

The distinction between working together versus alongside may seem slight, but your perspective and approach makes all the difference in the end result. Redesigning processes with cross-functional collaboration in mind can transform your entire organization.

Don’t Mind Your Own Business

Your mom may have taught you to mind your own business, and that’s good advice in some situations. But we’re not talking about being nosy, we’re talking about ditching the self-focus. If your employees or teams are solely focused on their own tasks without understanding or caring how this impacts the overall organizational goals, you’re less likely to succeed.

Imagine a basketball team where players are more focused on reaching individual shot goals than working together to win the game. They may wind up actually working against each other. Would anyone ever pass the ball? How many golden shot opportunities would be missed by this approach?

In an organizational environment, minding your own business can create silos. This occurs within teams when individuals don’t work well together; or across the organization when teams don’t partner with other teams, but instead function as entities focused on their own agendas.

Recall an experience where one or more team members were intent on always having their own way. Did this stir up conflict? Did the team function well? Things may or may not have been accomplished, but the other team members might have felt marginalized, weary, or even angry.

Sources of Silo Conflict

Several things contribute to this breakdown of teamwork, including poorly designed systems, office politics, and stunted communication.

A functional mindset that is narrowly focused on the task at hand, without considering the big picture, is actually a prime setup for dysfunction. If your brain turned all of its attention to making sure the heart was pumping blood, but neglected to ensure the lungs were working properly, it would result in respiratory failure, and if not treated—death. The heart can’t function for long if it’s not working together with the lungs. They serve different, yet connected, purposes.

The same is true of an organization. But there’s good news; dysfunction is correctable. If you’re currently noticing a siloed approach and perhaps even failure in some areas, it’s not too late to begin working together cross-functionally and make a huge improvement in the health of your organization and the satisfaction of your employees—both of which greatly impact your overall success.

Let’s take a closer look at some common culprits of conflict and how to overcome these challenges.

Poorly Designed Systems

Systems and processes are not purposely designed to create conflict, but that’s often what happens—especially when individual incentives don’t align with team goals and team/departmental goals don’t support each other.

For example, if manufacturing goals don’t mesh with sales goals, your system might be setting you up to fail. How can a sales team deliver on their goals if manufacturing is unable to keep up with the demand? Or perhaps marketing goals unintentionally put pressure on other team by making grand promises in order to meet lead quotas, leaving sales or customer service to deal with angry customers if the guarantees are actually impossible to fulfill.

It’s important to design your systems and process to be harmonious across the board. Create goals that work for all parties and serve the best interests of the organization as a whole.

Office Politics

It’s important that employees understand their roles and are championed for their strengths. This diffuses the jockeying for position that often occurs when people feel threatened or underappreciated.

When individuals and teams have clearly defined roles and a sense of ownership of their piece of the pie, it makes it easier for everyone to feel like they are sharing the pie (rather than having to fight for a slice). Creating an inclusive rather than exclusive atmosphere helps people work together according to their strengths. Instead of feeling competitive or paranoid, everyone wins.

Organization-wide sharing of information and providing ample opportunity for interaction, are two more great ways to reduce office politics.

Stunted Communication

Communication issues are often at the heart of any conflict. When people don’t understand or appreciate the skills and goals of the other party, they’re more apt to feel either superior or competitive. This happens more frequently in an environment with poor communication flow, where employees and departments have minimal interaction with each other.

Instead, design your organization for robust communication. Build in ways to provide frequent and clear communication, create feedback loops, provide relational opportunities, and structure focused collaboration. Find ways to make sure everyone feels involved and connected.

Whoever Is For You, Is Not Against You

As a leader, you set the tone for your organization. The way you treat others and the intentionality you put into building a collaborative culture will pay great dividends. Begin by reminding people that you are all on the same team, then find ways to infuse this mentality into your daily operations.

You might be surprised what a difference cross-functional teamwork can make.

Looking to kick conflict to the curb and increase productivity? ORG can help.

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Contact us today to learn about the 7 levers you can pull to create a more collaborative environment.

Topics: Collaboration