When Two Departments Collide

When Two Departments Collide

What is it like for you when you know two of your departments are clashing?  What’s it like watching the waste, turnover, and disengagement?  What have you tried to do to bring unity to the company?  Have you grown frustrated?  Have you become resigned that it will just be that way?

You are not alone.

Workplace conflict across departments is common and, unfortunately, extremely costly.  Often times the way leaders try to resolve these inter-departmental issues is by focusing on the present situation instead of focusing on the interpersonal dynamics.

For example, let’s say a marketing department comes up with a slick campaign that requires a little more budget, but the finance department won’t release the funds. Maybe a leader would come in and just try to resolve the issue by seeing what the options are for finding the funds from less important projects or by trying to reduce the campaign.  Whatever solution is found, one department is likely to be disappointed.

Instead of focusing on the present situation, focus on the heart.  Get each department to clearly articulate what their core drivers are.

Discover Core Drivers

One way to discover the core drivers is by asking marketing what the slick campaign represents to them.  Ask finance what the holding of the funds represents to them.

At first they may think that what you are asking for is obvious to all, but ask them to really get to the core.  Listen for values that can’t be further reduced.

So, for example, the core is not about making more money or staying on budget.  The core is about something deeper.

An acronym that I use to help me know when a team has gotten to the bottom of it is the acronym “SLAVES.”  It stands for:

  • Security
  • Love
  • Acceptance
  • Value
  • Enjoyment
  • Significance

Listen for a tailored message that encompasses one of these six core drivers.  Make sure both departments understand each other’s core drivers.

Have each of them spell out what it means to them when the core driver is achieved.

Now, once you know what the core driver is, address the problem from that perspective.

Conflict Resolution

If achieving high levels of enjoyment is what drives marketing, then have marketing AND finance partner together to see how else this high enjoyment can be achieved.

If finance wants security, have both finance AND marketing work on solutions for they can achieve greater security for finance.

Both working together to generate solutions on behalf of the other will lead them to learn how to use their differing skills, personalities, and drives for each other’s benefit.  This will bring unity.

At the end of the day, destructive workplace conflict is a people issue more than a philosophical issue.  When people are united and know they have each other’s best interest at heart, constructive conflict can help to generate the best possible solutions for all.  High performing teams know what that is like.

To resolve destructive conflict quickly, define what the core drivers are.  Then have those in conflict partner together to find ways to meet those core drivers for one another.

Chew On This:

  • What is your core driver?

If you have any questions feel free to email me at  ryan@ryancbailey.com or call (404) 421-8120.

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.