ARTICLE 4: “My Team Provides Internal Services To Others Inside The Organisation So Why Wouldn’t They Get Along As One Big Happy Family?”
At face value, it shouldn’t be a problem to offer services to internal clients. Everyone is in the same business; they all want to do well for the company – you would hope.
When one department relies on another to provide a service, the expectation is that it will be provided with a smile. No questions asked.
Perhaps one of the issues which cause internal teams to not get on is just that – not asking questions. Assumptions can be made – after all, the skills of internal consulting are the same as those used by salespeople. Not everyone is well-versed in those skills, let alone the ability to understand what the internal client might need.
Sometimes there can be internal rivalry between departments. The most frequently observed example of this is with sales and marketing. Each provides a specific function which is designed to achieve the objective of higher sales. Yet the people in those departments seem to have a tradition of not getting along as a happy family.
On the surface, there appears to be a working relationship – maybe a begrudging acceptance of each other. This stems from having different opinions about how the two functions are better than each other, but more deeply it is about how people understand communicating between the two parts of the business.
At the end of the day, the sales and marketing functions in a business are supposed to work together to beat the competition and provide excellence to customers. They can at times not be ‘on the same page’ or at worse be almost in competition with each other.
Some time back, I moved from a sales role into a marketing role. On my second day in the office, I bumped into one of the regional sales managers. He thought I was still working on my own sales territory in the South West of England. Asking how my sales were going, I responded – “Oh I’ve just started in marketing – it’s my second day here in head office.” His response surprised me: “You lot in marketing haven’t a clue. It’s about time you understood what happens in sales and support us as you should.”
To this day, I don’t believe he meant to be quite so blunt and think it was my fault that marketing wasn’t living up to his expectations. It was more the fact he expressed his frustrations in a way that alienated me. He didn’t understand how to communicate his point of view effectively to me.
There are many other examples of competition between departments. None of which are to do with what department is better or more important than the other. They are almost always to do with the way individuals within those departments communicate their point of view. Perhaps if they were to get along and understand each other, there may be more harmony and higher performance.
In order for different internal teams to perform at their best, many factors need to be taken into account.
- Asking what the internal client needs and not making assumptions
- Having high levels of interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence
- Providing excellence in the same way that you would for external clients
- Putting away the ego or the ‘we know better than they do’ mentality
- Prioritising appropriately – not just responding to the most demanding