In a recent conversation with a mid-level manager, we discussed his concern about members of his team getting in periodic spats with their contemporaries in another department, an internal client organization. “It’s pretty much out in the open” he said, before adding, “… and I have no doubt that it is impeding our levels of productivity and service.”
When pressed to explain the root cause, he mumbled something about pay grade jealousy stemming from the fact that his folks were paid less than their organizational peers in the other department. While he and I were talking, he took a call from his director-level peer in the other organization. By virtue of overhearing one-half of their rather frosty conversation, I witnessed the real cause of the dustup… The two of them, in full view of their respective teams, were, for some unknown reason, busily throwing rocks over the fence at one another, and people on the other side.
“So what do I do? “he asked. Believing that a coach’s best value is achieved when they help clients discover a path that will work best for them, rather than tell them what to do, I responded with a couple questions of my own: When the SVP that you and this other guy both report to learns of this, if she hasn’t already, how is that going to go down with her? “Umm, not well, for either of us.” So, I asked, “Do you want to handle this preemptively on your own, or would you rather wait until the person who does your respective performance reviews and pay recommendations tells you to do it?”
“Do you think a ‘Let’s Make Peace Lunch’ would work” he asked?” I indicated that it seemed a good start, that he should probably initiate the conversation, and do it soon.
Time will tell how their lunch went, but in the meantime, let’s accept the reminder that the “enemy” doesn’t reside in a department down the hall. Rather, they are on the other side of the field on the competitor’s bench. Those are the ones who would take food out of the mouths of your babies. To be sure we sometimes need to disagree or have tough conversations with our teammates, but we should do it professionally, in the locker room, out of view, and when it’s over, it’s over. That way, when the next play goes off, we’re on the same side of the ball, with hearts and minds aligned.