- Posted by J. Nirdosh Reddy
- On October 25, 2016
- Management Ideas
We get used to things, ideas, and practices. We are creatures of habit. Once in a while we need to reflect on our practices and see whether we are keeping up with the changing times.
In this article, I would like to talk about the costs and consequences of inter-departmental battles that exist in some enterprises. Since we get used to them, we take them for granted. But, these battles don’t need to exist in the 21st century.
A typical work day?
We go to work. We do what we are told. We attend meetings – either to present what we are doing or listen to what others are saying. Sometimes, we are questioned on what we are doing – things that are interesting and exciting to us, but others don’t see any benefit, and why we are not doing what others want – things others need, but not on our approved list of things to do.
So, the fight starts. They say they need such and such done by us (it is implied that they need this support in order for them to meet their objectives which is never stated openly). We contend that doing such and such additional tasks costs money which is not in the budget (implying that blowing our budget leads to adverse performance appraisal, as is well known in the enterprise). Good managers are expected to be responsible individuals and control their costs.
Obviously they are not happy with our response and complain in meetings that we are not cooperative, not team players, hard to work with etc. and make hell for us. In turn, we make sure people understand that these guys never plan ahead, that fire-fighting on their part is not a crisis on our part, and that they should have allocated for such expenditures in the budgets. The fact that these guys did not know about these ideas when the budgets were prepared several months ago does not enter the discussion.
Over time, they resign themselves to the fact that this is the way things are done and keep doing what they can do by themselves, abandoning all ideas that can make a contribution to the company but requires collaboration from other departments.
Does this situation sound familiar? If so, let’s reflect as to why people behave this way.
People are conditioned by their past experiences. They do what is deemed (perceived) to be good for their boss and their department (and hence for themselves). Departmental objectives (and hence self-interest) win over what may be good for the enterprise. Thinking about other departments at a cost to one’s self is a rarity.
So, what are the costs and consequences of inter-departmental conflicts?
- Ideas that can improve the profitability but require collaboration get pushed into the background
- Human potential is underutilized
- Employees lose, the enterprises lose, and the customers lose
Adopt process thinking
You can transform your enterprise’s work culture by adopting process-based thinking and business process management (BPM) practices. The belief system of conventional management has been that people produce output, therefore, we need to manage people; put people in hierarchical silos; and give them specific objectives. The emerging belief system is that the processes that are being used in the enterprise produce the outputs. Therefore, we need to improve upon the existing processes in order to get better results. Therefore, establish objectives based on improving those processes that are under-performing. The processes invariably involve people from different departments. This automatically leads to cross-functional team work because it is in their self-interest.
Many enterprises have adopted the emerging style of management and have successfully recognized the underutilized human potential to improve bottom-line, customer satisfaction and create a more enjoyable work culture.
The inter-departmental battles become a thing of the past!
Enjoy the journey of transformation and good luck!
Please let me know your thoughts.
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