Collaboration is hard, even within a team. Across multiple teams and across multiple departments? That’s a near-impossible task in some organizations.
Sales people might distrust the inputs from marketing people, or HR might regard the IT team with suspicion. But it’s the ability to collaborate — to be creative and to solve problems together — that distinguishes top companies. Their teams share knowledge and inspire one another daily. For managers and executives, the onus is on you to create a culture in which communication, transparency and collaboration thrive.
Here are three tips for tearing down the silos in your own organization.
Empathy and understanding are the foundations of collaboration
Victoria Crispo writes at Idealist Careers.
When you work across departments and learn each one’s motivations and how it relates to the whole organization, you may gain a feeling of ‘we’re in this together’ among you and your coworkers (and perhaps ideas for communicating that message to your audience).
That “we’re in this together” attitude is the very definition of a team — and that team spirit can become self-reinforcing. Once you understand the challenges and frustrations people in other departments are experiencing, you’ll develop the empathy necessary to be able to reach out and offer ways to help.
That collective effort will translate into more meaningful results for the organization as a whole. It also helps to break down walls we all have built up inside of ourselves, i.e. our own biases.
Joanna Schloss writes at CMSWire.
True collaboration requires more than just a willingness to share. It also requires team members to acknowledge that what they share is inherently biased by the personal lens through which they see the world.
Teasing apart those personal biases one-by-one gives everyone in the organization an increasingly clearer picture of how they can move their teams forward.
Team leaders must encourage communication and internal transparency
Of course, to first build that intra-departmental empathic connection, you must first get those particular challenges on other people’s radars. In other words, workflows and projects need internal transparency so team members elsewhere can get visibility into what’s going on.
This is why I called out the sales-marketing misalignment earlier on; these teams often run into conflict in organizations because it’s not always clear to one what the other is doing. Some companies understand this and take intentional steps to avoid that disconnect. For example, SalesforceIQ, a small business CRM provider that started life as RelateIQ before being acquired by Salesforce, has members of its product and marketing teams sit in on sales calls to better understand customer questions.
Would your sales team let someone from another department sit in on a call? If not, it would be good to know why.
Practicing forgiveness: To err is to be human
We all make mistakes. Sometimes, an engineer misses a bug in the software she’s building. Sometimes, a salesperson lets a lead go cold. These things happen, and recognition of this fact needs to be built into any organization’s operations.
Workplace wellbeing teacher Michelle McQuaid writes.
Organizations with a forgiving culture have been found to experience more trusting alliances, social capital, workplace humaneness, customer care, and a sense of calling among employees. Be it redefining failures as learning opportunities, seeking a higher purpose that provides personal meaning for employees, separating acts from people, providing environments of support or honoring fairness and equity, forgiveness allows people to heal, replenish and restore positive energy.
In other words, be forgiving of mistakes, and treat everyone as the human beings they are. This leadership by example will set the tone for a more positive, empathic, collaborative culture for your entire organization.