Improving Communication Across Teams

By Tiffany Chepul

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dateMon, Jul 14, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

A recent pattern I have noticed in my coaching involves the challenge that sales and operations teams have in communicating. The Sales team is focused on closing deals and setting client expectations. The Operations team is focused on delivering orders, serving customers and managing inventory.

Sales thinks Operations is lounging around the office with a margarita machine in the break room instead of answering their emails immediately. Operations thinks the Sales team is enjoying a poolside massage while entertaining clients on the company dime all day.R2Icon_WklyMtg_FINAL-resized-600

We all know the realities are much different on both sides.

The two teams NEED to work together, but so many companies struggle with friction between these two departments specifically.

So, how do you bridge the gap between both sides of the house?

1. Education is key. Both sides need to ask lots of questions and learn each others' processes. Approach each interaction with the personal goal of learning something new about the other department.

2. Set "rules of engagement" for communication. If something needs an answer on the same day, format the subject line with the word "ACT" in the beginning. If something needs an answer by the end of the week, use another word in the subject line. Each side should prioritize their requests appropriately and not overuse the word "urgent."

3. Make sure there is a set process that everyone knows and follows. It is easier to hold each other accountable if there is a clear governing process in place.

4. When an issue comes up, first communicate directly with the appropriate person. No need to copy the entire team or their boss. Stick to facts and try to avoid making the issue emotional. Employ the formula of start with facts, share your story, and then ask for the other person’s story as suggested by Crucial Conversations. If you still get nowhere, follow the proper process and chain of command to get resolution.

5. Suggest having a Daily Huddle with key players on each side. It doesn't have to happen everyday - maybe just 3 days a week. Having a Daily Huddle rhythm will reduce the amount of emails and stress on both sides.

If each side will commit to learning and seeing the others' perspective, following the "rules of engagement" and creating the proper communication rhythm, the two teams should be working like a well-oiled machine in no time.

Who knows - they might even head out for margaritas together after work.



Executive Summary from Patrick Thean's book Rhythm

Tiffany Chepul


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images