conflict between teams Mike Cardus team development expert

Often conflicts within teams are not the team itself, it is the needed work and support from another team in a different department within the organization. For example, the organization has defined a goal for an improved quality and response time to customer needs; this goal requires a Customer Service team to work with a Sales and Production team.

There are many areas where interdepartmental teams can have agreement and disagreement. Much of the difference stems from the different tasks, goals, rewards, time constraints, and current behavior that arise when teams work together.

The success point for Senior and Team managers is developing a process and systems that encourage these different teams to work together.

When consulting and coaching management teams I often ask,

Can you share with me the management interface goals?

Interface goals are what-by-whens that the Director or Executive team have with a focus on how the departments work together. It is where the work overlaps, not where they do their departmental work but where each department overlaps for the overall success of the organization.

The interface is where the executive management team can have the greatest impact. This impact on the organization and their teams happens because they have the authority, accountability and access to resources that can improve the interface between departments, and this is where you find and excess or deficit of capacity within an organization.

Understanding the challenge

Understanding an interdepartmental team as two or more separate teams have a shared goal, and they must collaborate for each to achieve shared and individual objectives and key results.

An inter-departmental team development process is appropriate when one or more of the following conditions are observed:

  • The shared product or result that both teams are working towards is delayed, decreased, blocked or altered, to the dissatisfaction of one or both team’s managers.
  • One team is not asking for services or information that it needs from the other team.
  • One team does not satisfactorily perform services that the other team needs.
  • Team members blame the other team for many of their problems and feel resentment as a result of working with the other team.
  • Team members feel frustrated, rejected, or misunderstood by members of the other team that they must work with to achieve the objective and key results.
  • Team members spend more time complaining about or avoiding interaction with the other team than they spend working through mutual challenges.

When one or more of the challenges above happens there must be some intervention early on, and this intervention will be most effective when it is in the context of the interface goal mentioned above. The team’s respective managers need to be a part of developing a team development process. It is necessary to get agreement from both teams, that a challenge is evident, and they want to improve. If the managers start team building without agreement from the teams, there will be lots of resistance.

– 6 area above from ‘Team Building’ by William Dyer