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Fellow team members, unite!
This article is dedicated to all hard working teams, cooperating within a company to achieve common goals. Thanks to their efforts, companies all around the world can prosper without fear of collapsing under unproductive disputes.
What about the grimdark reality facing companies with unity problems? I had an unpleasant opportunity to work in such places and I’d like to share an insight on how important it is to keep up the good spirit between branches of your company tree.
Grinding company gears
The idea of a stress-free workplace is very common nowadays. It is usually quite easy to maintain such within a team, where members treat each other as a family. In case of separate teams, where different employees work on different projects, tensions may easily arise though.
Reasons behind that may vary. It could be poor communication, integration between teams, even private grudges may cause team members to distrust each other.
A great example of such tensions would be my personal experience as a sales agent working for a bank. I was assigned to a new sales department where every member of the department has been freshly recruited.
We didn’t have much experience in terms of sales or banking in general, but a team of senior employees was supposed to guide us. They were an experienced, well-trained group of people who would teach us how to successfully sell products via phone.
Sounds professional, doesn’t it?
It was until our team started to have problems with customer service. Some of us made mistakes, dissatisfied customers sent their complains, and we were punished for it. We received a formal reprimand and few fresh recruits lost their jobs that day.
The problem was, mistakes were made due to lack of proper training. Also, the senior group disinformed us regarding few procedures and our punishment felt inadequate. As a result, we felt that we couldn’t trust the seniors anymore.
Instead of working with them, we started communicating with higher ranking supervisors. As you might guess, going over seniors heads escalated conflicts between our teams rapidly.
In the end, our project was shut down as most of seniors and sales agents would not want to participate in it together.
This disastrous scenario could have been avoided with a few simple rules every team should follow.
#1. Communication is THE key
First of all - communication. You have to communicate all relevant information to all teams, that includes good and bad news alike.
Ongoing issues have to be discussed between teams, no matter how hard it can be. You need to meet regularly to resolve problems before they grow beards long enough to stumble over.
If your company is built in a way that regular meetings between teams are not possible, you should consider creating a forum channel where teams could communicate and share their queries when it suits their time and needs best.
Neglecting this practice may be devastating to company’s morale and performance. Gathering regular feedback from your employees and working on creating communication etiquette should be a priority.
#2. Don't shush your teammates
Second of all, teams have to cooperate. On many occasions, people from different teams will have to share their knowledge to achieve better results on whatever they’re working on.
Contacting different departments should never be associated with bad emotions. Employees need to know that they are welcome to address their doubts whenever and to whomever they need to.
That includes all, even the simplest requests. Whenever an employee gets sent back with nothing or gets reprimanded for asking “stupid” questions, he will not be so willing to share his thoughts in the future.
Such bad experiences will cause employees to avoid seeking contact with other teams, not to mention helping them in return. They prefer to resolve issues among “their own people” even if the solution might be less beneficial for the company.
#3. Don’t break the habit
Lastly, every team has its working habits and you should respect them. You should consider the way you approach each team, keep track of their working hours, preferred communication channels etc. All those details should be common knowledge among all teams in order to keep interactions as smooth as possible.
Each team could prepare an email with description of their schedule and contact details. The advantage of emails can be easily stored and searched for, but if you have a better tool that would suit this scenario, you can implement it. For example, you could try to use Octopus and turn it into your internal knowledge base.
Even if your company consist of a great variety of departments, there should be an easily accessible document with contact ways and details.
All for one and one for all!
In the end, all of us should remember that we are coexisting gears in a great mechanism - the company. If one fails, it will slow down or even stop the whole enterprise. We are a part of the same team, no matter the branch we represent and respecting each other's work should be natural.
However, human communication is a faulty thing, that’s why I believe reviewing those fundamental rules of cooperation is required to keep up the good vibes among employees.
But if you’re more of an analytics person, here are some numbers for you!
Productivity improves by 20-25% in companies where employees have established steady communication. Another awesome thing is that effective communication brings up the chance 50% more likely to report turnover levels below the industry average compared with only 33% for the least effective communicators.
It means that the sooner you improve communication in your teams, the better for your company.