One challenge that is often brought up in our courses is that of lack of cooperation between departments. Although you’re all working for the same company, other departments may appear to slow you down. Here are some tips in working with this situation.
In dealing with other departments, begin with an assumption that they are as competent as you are. Everyone is doing his or her best, and everyone is busy. Remember that ultimately, you’re all on the same team. Your positive attitude will get better results than complaining and whining about the lack of help you get. Treat them as you would like to be treated.
Handle your special requests of other departments as you would handle a task that you would delegate:
– Clarify the task to be done and the standards to be met.
– Establish a timetable.
– Ask if there is anything else that the person needs to complete the task.
– Confirm the commitment that they made (don’t make it for them).
If others let you down, be careful not to react with one of two opposite emotions; aggression and passive behaviour.
Aggression is fighting back, yelling, name calling, threatening to go to a higher authority, becoming impatient and being forceful.
Passive behaviour involves giving in, ignoring an issue, procrastinating, apologizing or walking away.
Be assertive instead. Use the person’s name. Be polite but firm. Ask, don’t tell.
Be straightforward with your request. “Our department needs this by tomorrow.” Adding an explanation helps to validate the request. Then ask if there’s anything else they need, or anything you can do to help the process. Clarify the agreement made.
If the person objects for any reason, repeat the request, stating it slightly differently each time.
“Jo, I’d like to get a copy of that report by tomorrow.”
She answers that she’s too busy.
“I can understand how you’ve got a big workload. (Avoid the dreaded “but”) I do need the report finished by tomorrow, so can we find a way to complete it somehow?”
Ask “Would it be helpful if I……..” Sometimes they can do a better job if you help first. Your offer also displays genuine empathy.
Use the phrase, “What would have to happen…” For instance, “I understand that you’re busy, but what would have to happen for this to be finished by tomorrow morning?”
Sometimes the person might suggest a solution that you can help achieve: “Well I’d have to send it by courier and I don’t have the authority to do that.”
Maybe they can’t and maybe you can.
Don’t appeal to a higher authority. If you say “I need this done, and I can get my boss to speed things up if I have to,” you may not be successful. Instead, build a relationship. Take an interest in things that are important to them.
If problems persist, keep a log of transactions. Include the date you sent something to another department and the date you got it back. Use this to support process improvement, not to blame someone.
Create routines for standard requests from other departments that are repeated. For instance, automate monthly report processes. This increases efficiency.
Find out what’s causing some of the roadblocks. Meet to outline your concerns. The other department might identify blocks that can be removed.
By being proactive in dealing with these concerns, you open up opportunities to assist other departments and identify how co-operation can be enhanced, rather than destroyed.
Originally published: 30 August, 2011
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