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Interdepartmental alliances

Effective Interdepartmental Partnering (571 words)

Interdepartmental alliancesHaving interdepartmental partnering 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.

  1. The very bright talent leaves.
  2. The deadwood lingers.
  3. The bottlenecks are everywhere.
  4. Interdepartmental relationships are severed.
  5. Interdepartmental sabotage is rampant.
  6. Customer deadlines are ignored.
  7. 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?”

  1. Do they possess a talent so specialized that they are impossible to replace?
  2. Are you so understaffed that you are willing to retain employees that impede productivity?
  3. Are they a family member?
  4. Are they blackmailing you?
  5. Is it just too much troubles to make a change?

Strategy for Success

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

valued customer or just a piggy bank?

Valued Customer or Just a Piggy Bank? (619 words)

valued customer or just a piggy bank?Valued customer or just a piggy bank? Successful interdepartmental partnering will keep your customers coming back.  However, lousy interdepartmental partnering will send them running. In order to transcend beyond just customer service to develop truly satisfied and loyal customers, everyone must work together. In your organization, a particular department or a single person in a department can devastate your hard earned customer loyalty efforts.

On a recent Saturday morning, I took my Chrysler to the local dealer for an oil change and tire rotation. While sitting in the waiting room with a good book, the service advisor came in and sat next to me—nice touch. He started his add-on sales presentation talking to me about a particular factory installed tire that might have problems. I mentioned that that was the kind of tires on my car. He moved into explaining to my why I should pay an extra $150 to have my tires re-balanced and an alignment. “The car only has 16,000 miles—I don’t think so,” I stated. He wasn’t happy. Then he moved off that to a new air filter for $30. I told him to go ahead with the air filter as we had the bad fires in Malibu , CA six months back.

A Four Dollar Bolt?

When I went to the cashier to pay my bill it was about 40% higher than I expected. So I inquired. She wasn’t sure but mentioned an oil pan bolt for four bucks and change. “What,” I said, “the car only has 16,000 miles on it. Why would I need a new bolt?” Then she also noticed that the coupon (that the dealership sent me) had not been applied to my bill. She deducted the coupon amount but had to call the service advisor about the four buck bolt.

The service advisor arrived and stated that the bolt must have been stripped. I replied with, “The car only has 16,000 miles and this dealership is the only one that has touched the car. Why in the world would the bolt be stripped?” He angrily stated that he wasn’t going to argue about a four dollar bolt and told the cashier to take it off my bill.

Let’s Scrutinize the Situation

Who likes to feel that someone has taken advantage of them? Nobody! I had told the service advisor when I brought the car in that I didn’t want to be charged again for two cans of brake dust remover at twelve bucks plus change. He agreed that it was an inappropriate charge, but here we are again with another ridiculous charge ($4 bolt) added to my bill putting but both the service advisor, and myself in an uncomfortable situation. Who caused it? Perhaps the mechanic either damaged the bolt or just needed to add on a couple buck to my bill. Perhaps the service advisor did not take heed to my request not to add “extra” charges to my bill? Either way, I left the dealership feeling uncomfortable having to be a “whiner” in demanding that they not treat me so poorly. That interaction has damaged my relationship with the dealership—all for a $4 bolt—not the money but the principal of the situation.

What About You?

Are your departments working together to keep this type of situation from damaging customer loyalty relationships that you’ve worked so hard to develop? The above situation is quite common at today’s automotive dealerships, the little add-ons that they hope customers will ignore. But what about in your organization, are various departments either protecting themselves or trying to boost their ledger at the needless expense of customers? These little things are the kinds of activities that send your customers to the competition—and you’ll rarely ever know why.

Effective Non-Profit Interdepartmental Partnering (829 words)

Developing Strategic Alliances

Divisive in the world of non-profits are the employee and executive adverse reactions to anything entrepreneurial. This operating philosophy must be buried with the other relics of the Twentieth Century if Twenty-First Century non-profits are to thrive. The natural outcropping of this (should be) dead paradigm is silo mentality.

Are you having challenges with internal departments unwilling to collaborate? Do you believe this lack of cooperation is costing your organization time, resources, and money? Here is an idea that I’m sure will serve all leaders of today’s non-profits: put your suspected “Lords of Lesser Corners” under the microscope and call them out—privately, of course.

Do you have “Lords of Lesser Corners” in your organization? Be honest now…I’m not trying to be mean however, let’s call things by their proper name. These “Lords” are persons with some amount of authority but are emotionally small people. They are in constant fear of their jobs and area of influence. They lead by Draconian methodology. Their standard method of operation is protectionism. They live their non-profit organizational lives in constant fear and other erroneous beliefs.

Are these “Lords” bad people? Generally not, but they have a huge need for updated education in organizational success and personal success. “Lords of Lesser Corners” can be identified by their unwillingness to change, progress, and embrace new opportunities.

Exploring the Cost of Devastation

The disarray these Lords bestow upon your 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. Are you dealing with these challenges?

  • The very bright talent leaves.
  • The deadwood lingers.
  • The bottlenecks are everywhere.
  • Interdepartmental relationships are severed.
  • Interdepartmental sabotage is rampant.
  • Internal customer deadlines are ignored.
  • The organization is completely constipated.

What’s a Chief Staff Executive to Do?

Before you can scan the landscape, you first have to take off the blinders and be completely honest about your situation. You can no longer play ostrich with you’re your head in the sand. Take a close look at your “Lords of Lesser Corners” and explore this question deeply, “Do they add any value to the organization?” Consider the following:

  • Do they possess a talent so specialized that they are impossible to replace?
  • Are they so loved by large segments of your membership that their departure would cause a retention problem?
  • Are you so understaffed that you are willing to retain those that impede?
  • Is it just too much trouble to make a change?
  • Are they a family member?
  • Are they blackmailing you?
  • Do you have the will to lead well?

Strategy for Successful Retention

  • 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. For internal partnering to be successful, every manager/director must understand how their department’s behavior, performance, and cooperation affect all the other departments and ultimately, the members’ experience.
  • Re-organize your company’s silos and relocate the “Lord” in a section where they will do less damage through their provincial thinking. This is the easiest path but least effective. Your “Lords,” if not re-educated, can and will still spread their darkness.
  • Realize you, the Chief Staff Executive, might be part of the problem for allowing the isolative behavior to continue. You may not realize it but through your non-action, you have been rewarding the behavior you do not want. Ultimately, whatever happens in your organization generally emanates from your management style and behavior.
  • Adjust your departmental director review process to also include their accountability for the whole organization’s effectiveness and success in serving members.

Tools, Skills & 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 managers and department directors 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 a staff committee (a representative from every department) of “Interdepartmental Collaboration,” answering directly to the Chief Staff Executive. I use the term collaboration as it conjures a different and more beneficial vision in the minds of most, from that of cooperation. This committee will be charged with, and rewarded for, the quality of interdepartmental collaboration.

While it is completely true that the Chief Staff Executive sets the culture for any non-profit—this person cannot be everywhere all the time. Your collaboration committee might just save the careers of your “Lords of Lesser Corners” by helping the “Lords” to better understand how they can contribute to the success of your organization as a whole, and not just their department.

The key to safeguarding your organization’s future…is to research, embrace, and maximize…your member ROI.