All organisations have politics and they all have invisible borders and boundaries. If you want to see where the lines are drawn, pull out the organisational chart (if your organisation has one). Each department and division has a purpose, objectives and standards of performance. Across the lines of an organisation it’s possible and common for objectives to conflict. One department may be charged with production, another is responsible for quality. One group is expected to take risk while another is responsible for controlling it. What begins as a system of checks and balances can quickly become us vs. them. When this happens we begin to view our partners as enemies or a necessary evil down the hall.
It would definitely be wonderful if your organisation made the commitment to break through departmental barriers. Your job would be easier and you would even enjoy it more. As awesome as that would be, you can’t wait for the organisation to figure this out. You can consciously work on ways you can partner more effectively. Partnering across the borders of your organisation comes with a set of rules and if these rules are broken, partnerships suffer, trust is broken and you have to start all over again. Here are my twelve rules of engagement and hope it helps you be a better partner at work and even at home.
1. Find your empathy: Demonstrate a sincere willingness to try to understand your partners. Go out of your way to understand their processes and what they need from you to play nicely.
2. Build on the foundation of common ground: Remember you are on the same team here. Your partners are not the enemy.
3. Use positive communication: Talk about what you want, what you are and what you can do.
4. Follow up: Trust has always been built in the details. Follow up and follow through. Keep promises and return phone calls the same day, even if you do not have the answer and especially when it’s ugly. The moment you realise you can’t keep a commitment for whatever reason, let your partner know.
5. Use the right channel of communication: Endeavour to always choose the channel based on your objective. If you just want to update your partners, go ahead and do that in writing. Some things don’t belong in writing and should never be written but again that’s what car keys, legs, backbones and voices are for, to bring you face-to-face.
6. Eliminate all back channel communications: Avoid talking about your business partners instead of to them.
7. Never throw a business partner under the bus: Even if they richly deserve it, blaming them in public for what they did or didn’t do should never be done. That’s a discussion you have with your partners in private. Publicly, especially in front of the board or even your customers, you must stand next to your partner, swallow the bitter pill, take the heat and then go right ahead and tear each other’s hair out in private.
8. Make it a top priority to appreciate and recognise partners: Make them look good. Believe me this is the currency that creates influence.
9. Take Responsibility: Processes and people will never be perfect and there is no one coming on a white horse to magically fix the problems that plague you. So you might as well take absolute responsibility for yourself.
10. Choose your words carefully: Use partnering words like “we” and “ours.”
11. Communicate when things don’t work: When things start to slide sideways, communicate more. Always turn up the reception and frequency and never the volume.
12. Before hitting send on that fireball of an e-mail you just hammered out, ask yourself some questions: What is my real motive? Is my goal to fix the problem or fix the blame? What is the business objective? Is this a rant or a solution? Will this message build trust or destroy it? Will this invite cooperation or resistance? And do I really need to send a copy to the universe?
Break through the barriers within your organisation by isolating and evaluating them objectively. See them as problems to solve and call on your awareness and creativity. Empower yourself by managing your focus. Strive to remain objective-based in your responses and do not allow yourself to be distracted by what is trivial or juvenile. Endeavour to build relationships behind the enemy lines. Turn your adversaries into allies by understanding their needs and declaring your intention to be a valuable partner. Confront what needs confronting professionally and assertively. Teach your partners how to do business with you. Negotiate for what you need and find ways to invest in the success of others.
Breaking through the barriers positions you to increase your value to the organisation and to create new opportunities for yourself.
About the Writer: Eniola Adeniji is a woman after God’s own heart, a motivational Writer, Speaker, Fashion and Photography addict. She is also a Business Developer, Social Media Manager and the founder of Woman Of Value. She blogs at ennmae.wordpress.com