Have you ever had that experience where your team is partnering with another one – in the same company – and still, you were amazed at how differently you all operate?
This situation often comes to life in the very first meeting. One group may walk in five minutes late; the other was already assembled five minutes before the start time. Or maybe, one team starts their meetings by catching up and cracking jokes, while the other is ready to get down to business.
Even when company culture is clearly defined, there will always be subtle (or overt) differences in the way individual teams approach business, and it’s something that leaders, managers and team members need to be aware of to succeed.
According to one study, more than 70 percent of organizations across the globe report at least some cross-functional teamwork in their organizational structure. As more projects require collaboration across departments, we are more and more likely to be exposed to our organization’s subcultures and need to identify ways to bridge the gaps.
As you seek to navigate cultures within your culture and drive collaboration across teams, try using these four tips:
1. Identify your shared goals.
If you are partnering with another team to complete a project, reflect on where both groups have shared priorities. As a starting point, consider your company’s vision and any yearly goals that have been articulated by your organization.
Identify what objectives both of your teams are seeking to address and explain how this project fits into the big picture. Having a common purpose will help you work toward your end goal collectively, even when your teams may approach the work differently.
2. Look for commonalities in how you do business.
What norms do your teams share? To answer this question, you’ll first need to consider how your team operates before turning your attention to how the other department prefers to approach their work. Reflect on the values of your organization and identify how these values reveal themselves in your groups. Identify what norms you share and focus on these common preferences as you begin to collaborate.
It may be helpful to work through this process as a team or encourage the leaders of the individual departments to meet one-on-one to discuss how best to tackle the project. If your project will last several months, you may even consider creating your own behavioral norms and can use tools like our Power of WE Crafting Team Norms workshop to support you.
3. Keep an open mind.
Let’s use an example. Perhaps your company has a value of accountability. When the Sales team meets, they celebrate this value by highlighting their most recent wins, which ultimately leads to longer-than-scheduled meeting times. In contrast, your Finance team shows accountability by ensuring that their meetings start and end right on schedule.
Neither team is right or wrong in how they operate; they simply vary on how they apply the same overarching principle. However, the impact of these different approaches can result in frustration and misunderstanding between the teams.
In this situation, both of your teams will likely need to flex their approach to establish a positive working relationship, which is much easier to do when you commit to keeping an open mind about the other group’s work style. Remain curious as you start to experience their operating norms and seek to establish a middle ground for both groups to work more comfortably together.
4. Examine your group Emergenetics® Profiles.
If your company uses Emergenetics, taking the time to review the Group Profiles will help you better manage interactions. The Group Profile offers insights into the ways that particular teams prefer to think, collaborate, communicate and learn. Using this information, you can tailor your approach to speak specifically to the interests and needs of this group even if you aren’t entirely sure how to operate within their subculture.
As you start to collaborate, I encourage you to connect with each individual team member on our Emergenetics+ app to learn about their own preferred Attributes and create a Saved Group to reference a team’s collective Emergenetics Profile so that you can flex your working styles to support overall productivity.
Even in a well-defined company culture, you will still find unique dynamics within smaller teams and populations of employees. Following these four tips, you can navigate the in’s and out’s of these subcultures and learn to collaborate more effectively.
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