CASE STUDY – Conflict between departments
The Senior Executive, Head of an organisation had found that conflict between their Sales and Finance departments was having an impact on the ability to win and secure new business. The Sales Department were concerned that the Finance department were hampering their ability to win new clients with strict contract rules, and Finance believed Sales were putting the company at risk by not adhering to the guidelines that had been put in place to avoid historical mistakes.
The Senior Executive was receiving numerous, but separate, complaints from each department. He needed to quickly find a way to resolve the immediate issue and create a lasting and successful working relationship between them.
In isolation, both departments had legitimate and well-founded views. However, when departments are in conflict, it’s important to get them to truly understand and appreciate where each are coming from, and then work out ways between them to come up with solutions, compromises and new ways of working together.
One to one leadership skills coaching was held with the Senior Executive in preparation for heading up a meeting between representatives from each department. During the coaching sessions, how the motivational needs of individuals differ and new ways of handling conflict were a key focus, as was the manager’s understanding of how his own leadership style and biases or preconceived beliefs could affect the outcome.
This was then followed with a discussion in which the Senior Executive was encouraged to consider and recommend the approach for a successful outcome from the meeting. This included acknowledging the conflict, ensuring all involved felt psychologically safe to contribute, clarifying positions/facts, confirming the expected outcomes, finding collaborative options, looking at preferred goals, alternative and possible solutions.
The Sales and Finance departments involved appreciated the time and discussions that were held. They were able to find improved and creative ways of agreeing new client contracts, prioritising must haves and more leniency/open communication about options available, both working to a common goal. Not only did the departments find ways of working well together, but the reduced conflict time and prioritising of issues led to quicker turnaround times for bringing clients on board.