How Can Managers Get People To Work Together?

Collaboration by employees across departments is needed but difficult
Collaboration by employees across departments is needed but difficult
Image Credit: KaCey97078

More and more companies are starting to realize that if they want to get the most out of their employees, they are going to have to get employees from different departments to work together. It turns out that this can be difficult to do. How is a manager going to use their manager skills to get extroverted sales people to work with introverted IT staff? How can creative types work with detail orientated budget types? Making this happen is a new task that managers are going to have to get good at.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

So what’s the problem here? It turns out that getting employees to play with others can be quite difficult for a manager to do because we don’t have any manager training on how to accomplish this. You are going to have to find ways to get people to adapt to others way of working, allow the team to have the spotlight instead of one single player, and risk making people angry or looking stupid by speaking up when they disagree with someone. From a company’s viewpoint, having their employees work in silos can be very expensive. A lot of big firms have blamed a number of setbacks on the fact that their employees were not sharing information. The problem with silos is that they can prevent a company from providing their customers with good service or creating products that their customers are actually going to want.

There is a real reason that companies want employees from different departments to work together. If they can make this happen, then the company is going to be able to react more quickly to changes that occur in their market. When a company creates a team that consists of employees that have different backgrounds they find that this team produces better ideas and decisions. However, very few companies actually have an incentive program set up to encourage this kind of collaboration. What managers want to be able to do is to create self-directed employee teams who will be responsible for coordinating their own work on projects. To keep things moving, these teams need to meet face-to-face with the manager on a regular basis in order to provide status and ask for help. This can eliminate employees being interrupted during the day by managers asking for updates.

A manager is also going to have to take steps to make sure that the members of the teams understand the communication and learning styles of other people on the team. What this means is that the fast talkers on the team need to learn to give everyone else time to process what they have said before they move on. In order to give everyone a chance to talk, meetings may have to be changed and the people who would normally be presenting will need to sit and listen. This may be hard for them to do. Additionally, the people who don’t often speak up need to learn to express themselves more often and more clearly. Everyone is going to have to change and adapt to working with different people.

The Power Of Working Together

One of the things that workers quickly come to realize when they start to work as a part of a multi discipline team is that the team will never be able to move any faster than their slowest member. Some people on a team may work best when they are facing a deadline. However, other people on the same team may become stressed out when they are faced with a deadline. In order to get the required work done, a project may have to be stretched over multiple days in order to accommodate all of the people who are involved. All of this may be worth it. Teams that are able to cooperate are able to complete projects that are more innovative and which are broader in scope.

When you have a team of multiple professionals who are all working together, you will now be able to take on challenges that you would have never attempted in the past. One of the challenges of getting people from different parts of the company to work together is that the learning curve can be quite steep. What participating in a team like this really means is that each person is going to have to agree to not be the person who is right in every discussion. Instead, what they are going to have to do is to identify how they can help the team find the right answer to the problem that they are trying to solve.

In order to be successful on a mixed team like this, workers are going to have to stop being so worried about making other people angry. What they are going to have to do is to engage in productive conversations with others on the team. This will probably lead to conflict that will require both listening and debating. Ultimately all of this should help the team to get to the correct answer. What a lot of these conversations are going to lead to will be a compromise. Its these compromises that will allow the team to solve their problem now and still be able to work together in the future.

What All Of This Means For You

The goal of any manager is to use your team building skills to get the most out of your team. More and more companies are discovering that the best teams are those that are made up of people from multiple different departments. However, it turns out that these are difficult teams to pull together and difficult teams to get to work together. How is a manager going to make this happen?

In order to get people from different departments to work together, a manager is going to have to find ways to get them to change how they work. It is worth doing this because studies have shown that when workers come out of their silos, they can become much more productive. When a company has teams that are made up of people from different departments, they find that they are able to more quickly react to changes in their market. Teams of people from multiple departments need to learn how to work together. They have to adjust their working styles to accommodate the other people on the team. Teams made up of people from other departments can only move as fast as their slowest member. However, they can often tackle problems that would be too big to solve otherwise. The learning curve for working on a team like this can be quite steep. When people work on teams with people from other departments, they need to stop worrying about making other people angry and instead learn how to use conflict to solve problems.

Every team that is able to look at a problem from many different angles has a better job of being able to solve the problem. Creating teams that are made up of people from different departments is a key way that companies can get their best minds working on their toughest problems. However, it’s going to take talented managers to keep these teams working together and able to create solutions to the problems that they are facing.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How can a manager help members of a multi discipline team become comfortable with making other members on the team angry?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As is the case with all managers, there are probably some manager skills that you do very well and other things that you’d like to learn how to do better. The big question that we always face is how can we get the manager training to become better at the things that we don’t currently do well? It turns out that the answer is that we need to learn from those around us who do these types of things well. How can we do that? Guess what – it may be as easy as moving your desk so that you sit close to them.