How do you handle inter-departmental coordination and trust issues?

How do you handle inter-departmental coordination and trust issues

One often comes across challenges of coordination not only in interdepartmental settings, but also between field staff and head office staff, leading to misunderstandings, distrust, frustration or at least suboptimal results. Over a period of time, this also becomes a cover for camouflaging one’s own weaknesses and inefficiencies too. Whenever you ask a person or a department, why they are not able to perform better, they are quick to roll out a litany of charges how other persons/departments are not letting them to do so through bureaucratic or political subterfuge. In all such situations, I have found team mirroring supplemented by Udai Pareek’s Role Negotiation Technique to be quite useful and more effective than all other methods. I am proud to have been taught the use of this process by Udai himself.

There are three steps in this process. In the first step, both the parties write out their responses to three statements: 1) What do we think about us in this situation; 2) What do we think about the other group; & 3) what does the other group thinks about us. Once these lists are firmed up in respective groups. They are exchanged. Naturally there is some amount of appreciation as well as embarrassment. Presence of a skilled facilitator is useful in absorbing the data without rancor, and transitioning to the next stage.

In the next stage, both the groups make two lists-what can we do to help the other group perform better and what can the other group do to help us perform better. Naturally, this leads to to-and-fro negotiations on a mutually satisfactory lists of what each group promises to do to help the other group perform better in pursuit of organizational goals.

This leads to the third stage where both groups sign a memorandum of understanding of cooperation in the presence of a senior person. The mere act of a written document of commitment is a strong motivator for both the groups to stick to their part of the bargain. This can be reviewed after 3 to 6 months, and renegotiated in the light of experience in the intervening period.

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