Having challenges with internal departments unwilling to collaborate? Is this lack of cooperation costing your organization time, resources, and money? If so, it’s time to put the “Lords of Lesser Corners” under the microscope.
While I really do not think “Lords of Lesser Corners” needs much additional description, nonetheless we should be clear on the concept. These Lords, persons with some amount of authority in your organization, be they men or women are the emotionally small people in your organization that seems to never be confident in themselves or their department. Their standard method of operation is protectionism. They live their organizational lives in constant fear of losing their job, among other erroneous beliefs.
The Real Cost
The devastation these Lords bestow upon their organization is omnipresent. The protectionism is so insidiously woven into the fabric of their silo’s culture that it is like a cancer in need of chemotherapy.
- The very bright talent leaves.
- The deadwood lingers.
- The bottlenecks are everywhere.
- Interdepartmental relationships are severed.
- Interdepartmental sabotage is rampant.
- Customer deadlines are ignored.
- The organization is completely constipated.
What’s a CEO to Do?
Take a close look at your “Lords of Lesser Corners” and explore this question deeply, “Why are you keeping them around?”
- Do they possess a talent so specialized that they are impossible to replace?
- Are you so understaffed that you are willing to retain employees that impede productivity?
- Are they a family member?
- Are they blackmailing you?
- Is it just too much troubles to make a change?
Strategy for Success
- Re-educate the Lord as to your expectations of how they operate in the organization. This is the best option. If you can help your Lords to better understand their place in the greater scheme of things, they might consider a behavior change. However, many times they do not.
- Re-organize your company’s silos and relocate the Lord in a section where they will do less damage. This is the easiest path but least effective. Your Lords will still spread their disarray.
- Realize you, the CEO, might be part of the problem for allowing the behavior to exist. Allowing negative behavior to continue is no different than rewarding negative behavior. Ultimately, whatever happens in your organization generally emanates from your management style and behavior.
Give ‘em the Tools & Motivation
Relationship management tools will be at the foundation for improvement in interdepartmental partnering. One effective tool is to associate salary, bonus, or incentive pay for leaders with interdepartmental relationship improvement. You can use a number of 360-style measuring instruments—an application you might already own—for measuring improvement. Connect pay to improvement and you’ll be pleased with the results.
An additional collaboration tool is to develop an executive-level “Office of Interdepartmental Collaboration.” I use the term collaboration as it conjures a different vision in the minds of most from cooperation. Cooperation equates to toleration while collaboration equates to willing participation—willing participation will always trump toleration. This directorate level officer will be charged with, and compensated for, the quality of interdepartmental collaboration.
While you can apply a number of band-aid style patches (feel good programs) on uncooperative Lords of Lesser Corners, and their departments, they are nonetheless just a patch. Your patches will only mask the symptom but never address the core causes of uncooperative Lords. Affect their pocketbook, and you’ll affect their behavior.
Ed is the Founder and CEO of the 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, Cigar PEG Philanthropy through Fun, and president at Rigsbee Research which conducts qualitative member ROI research and consulting for associations and societies. He has been called “the dynamite that broke up our log jam” by association executives—rarely politically correct and almost always provocative—and from a dozen years as a United States Soccer Federation referee, Ed calls it the way he sees it. Exceptional resources at www.rigsbee.com.