Can't We All Just Get Along?
WRITTEN BY Melanie Wood, Senior Consultant
I had the pleasure of training a company in…let’s call it turmoil. Divisions within the company were truly divided and employees were disengaged from one another. In listening to the managers tell me about the arguments I noticed they were all focusing on the actual topics of disagreement. Oftentimes it is not addressing the “what” your team is arguing about, but the “WHY” they are arguing in the first place that will lead to the solution. The reality is that not all teams are going to get along, not all departments are going to “play nice”. However, with the right method of attack you may be able to soothe the savage beasts.
As I dug in I found teams of natural risk-takers (“Team A”) were throwing broad-based, big-picture ideas at a division of risk-averse, highly methodical and rule-driven team members (“Team B”) with no “how” in place to execute. Team A felt that Team B was “not following through and putting their ideas on the backburner” because they did not like them. That was not the case at all. Team B simply was not processing the vague concepts as quickly as Team A would have liked. Team B wanted facts, details and explanations. They needed more information in order to take action. HOW were they going to bring the idea to fruition? What steps needed to be taken? These were the questions running through the minds of Team B while Team A thinks, “We’ll figure out details later, let’s just do it!” Once we sat down with the teams and talked through everyone’s process, you could see the light bulbs going on. It was almost a unanimous, “I never thought of it that way.” Team A realized what they needed to provide Team B in order to have them confidently and effectively produce their desired outcome. Team B now understood why Team A presented things in the ambiguous manner in which they did and vowed to communicate their needs better from the start. The gap began to close and the teams began working in sync.
Communication is essential. There is an image circulating the internet of Michael J. Fox and his quote, “If a child can’t learn the way we teach maybe we should teach the way they learn.” BINGO! Mr. Fox. The same applies for the workforce. Do not expect others to think or work like you and remind your employees of that reality. Remember that your teams are comprised of very different personalities and those in different divisions were most likely hired based on very different sets of behavioral traits and qualities and yet they must work together; discuss their differences. Identify the benefits of having the two different mindsets. Bridge the gap by opening the lines of communication between departments. What are their needs? What are their frustrations? Create win-win situations through communication and compromise. Taking the time to learn and understand how others think is the key to a more harmonious and productive workplace.