Conflict? Just work together!

Doll House Mess

Here’s a bit of non-genius – getting people to work together across departments requires setting up how they are supposed to work together across departments.   And the reverse – if people don’t work well together across departments, there is a fair chance that we haven’t set up how they are supposed to work together across departments.

Imagine this conversation:

Manager: “I haven’t discussed with the other Managers how our roles are supposed to work together.   You’ll need these other areas to be on board with you to get your work done, so this is going to naturally cause you some hassles, particularly when your outcomes aren’t exactly aligned with theirs.”

Employee: “OK….so I’m guessing you’re going to sort that out?”

“Yep.  As a Manager group, we’re investing in three courses for everyone  1) Advanced Influencing and Negotiation  2) Conflict Resolution and 3) Emotional Intelligence.  These three should allow you to get your way.”

“But if everyone has improved skills,  how do we win to make sure we get our jobs done”?

“There’s no winning here, we’re all on the same page”.

“But you said you haven’t discussed with the other Managers how all of our roles work together, so there’s going to be conflicts.  Sounds like different pages”.

“That’s why we’re sending you on the training”.


Lets not blame the managers yet.  If they had a model for how to align the work across departments they’d use it.   The key to aligning roles is to clarify not just what each area is accountable for, but to also make sure they are given the authority in terms of other roles if this is what needs to happen.  Then….make sure those other roles also know this.

And this authority doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing.  It can be the authority to drop past and advise, to say “wait, I don’t think that’s right”, to say “nope, you can’t do that”, or even to say “you have to do this”.   It depends on what the accountability is.  These are part of an organisational model created by Elliott Jaques  known as Requisite Organisation; it creates a clear environment that motivates people to apply their natural capability to get work done. I’ve used it numerous times and it simply works.

More on this next time, but for now, don’t expect your people to get along until you’ve made sure their roles get along.

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