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  • Is unhealthy Inter-Departmental conflict present in your organization?
  • If so, what is the cost?

The midterm election cycle is upon us. Can you imagine working in a place that operated like many governmental bodies? A place where people slam each other or spread false and/or misleading information to make themselves appear to be better leaders. What type of leaders would only be concerned about the unit in the organization in which they work? A divided organization might be able to stand, but it will underperform.

Departments within an organization have different functions and objectives, but all of them are supposed to contribute to the overarching mission of the organization It would be unthinkable for the marketing manager to bad mouth the accounting department because of its role in the organization.

I led a large department with five major units. Each unit felt theirs was the most important. I was pleased that they thought highly of their work, but I knew the work of each unit was equally important to our success as a department, especially if they worked synergistically. Like many organizations, the marketing unit believed it had to spend money to make money; while the accounting unit believed that spending should be controlled. Both points of view have value.

Leading an organization is like being a puzzle master. But it would be difficult to put it together if someone intentionally withholds puzzle pieces to make someone else look bad. That is what is known as win-lose management. Suboptimal communication is another cause of win-lose management.

Ego is a primary source of win-lose. It is much harder to listen to hear when listening to respond. Everyone wants to be heard, but don’t pause long enough to listen. Empathy goes out the door when ego comes in. Have you noticed that the harder you try to convert a person to your point of view the harder they dig into theirs? So how do you get that person to hear you? Listen. Others expressed this approach in their own way, but they are just rephrasing Stephen Covey’s golden words: “Seek first to understand and then to be understood”. 

The person whose opinion differs from yours doesn’t have all the answers; neither do you. By actively listening, paraphrasing, and clarifying, a solution that serves stakeholders equitably is more likely to emerge. All stakeholders are better off when a company thinks win-win rather than win-lose.