Ever notice the natural divisions that occur in organizations? I’ve seen this in every industry I’ve worked with; e.g., in financial services, it’s the branches vs. operations. In higher education, it’s faculty vs. administration. In advertising, it’s the creatives vs. the agency’s business “suits.”
Doesn’t matter whether it’s manufacturing vs. sales … or sales vs. marketing … or marketing vs. engineering … there always seems to be an “us” vs. “them” mentality in organizations. So how can employees effectively serve customers when they’re fighting internal turf battles?
Bridging the Great Divide
Everyone needs to understand where they & their colleagues fit in the scope of the organization and how working together, they can help an organization achieve its goals. (This was addressed in my April 11th and 14th posts about connecting employees to their organizations through orientation & communication).
To bridge the internal divides, employees also need to feel connected within their organizations. This involves building relationships with others in the organization so that everyone is on “the same page.” Here again, communication plays a critical role in bridging the connection:
Open up staff meetings – invite reps from other areas of the organization to attend department meetings so they know what’s going on & can share what they’re doing. This is especially important when departmental initiatives impact others’ work.
Showcase what a department or division does & how its work is important to the organization. You can hold an “open house” type event or spotlight the department in print (e.g., in employee newsletter or intranet).
Southwest Missouri State University senior administrator, Greg Burris, launched an ‘ambassador’ program modeled after community leadership-type programs. Groups of employees engaged in learning about the different facets of the school to improve cross-campus communications and, ultimately, customer service.
In his book The Customer Comes Second, Hal Rosenbluth, suggests management can also create cohesion by basing leaders’ compensation primarily on overall organizational performance, instead of relying on individual performance and fostering inter-departmental competition.