Here are two scenarios that’ll have you rolling your eyes (in an, “I’ve been there kind of way”).
- “Here’re my notes from my meeting today,” Employee 1 says to Employee 2 while laying a napkin on the desk with words and scribbles on it.
- Employee 1 is thinking, ‘Check that off my list.’
- Employee 2 is thinking, ‘What the bleep is this?’
- “I need to understand what the customer is expecting. What’s their budget?,” Employee 1 says to Employee 2.
- Employee 1 is thinking, ‘Why didn’t they get this information?’
- Employee 2 is thinking, ‘I want your expertise. Can you just come up with a solution?’
If either of these scenarios sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. It can feel like there’s a perpetual disconnect between teams. Sometimes it’s easier to focus on the processes, meanwhile, those carrying out the processes are struggling to come together. These disconnects can really suck the energy from the room and lower team morale. They can even hurt employee retention. Ineffective team interactions also play a role in sales funnels and the bottom line.
Where do most relationship and team disconnects come from?
They come from a lack of understanding each other’s roles. We’re not talking about job titles or job results here. We’re talking about WHAT people need to do, Why they need to do it, and HOW they need to do it in order to achieve the results of their job title. Without understanding each teammate’s process (which is a part of the entire team’s process) how can we ensure we’re supporting each other effectively?
Here are some strategies to help your team work together more efficiently:
- Shadowing. Yes, something as simple as shadowing can bring a team together. Shadowing creates a better understanding of someone’s day to day tasks. To help make the connection and create understanding, try these ideas out:
- Have an employee walk another employee through how they begin a project.
- Have the different departments show each other how their software programs work and how they integrate.
- Encourage employees to allow others to sit at their wheel (computer) and try a few of their everyday tasks.
- Individual cross training. Often cross-training is thought of as a way to teach people to wear different hats within the company. When you think of cross training as a way to facilitate workflow comprehension your employees will gain the intangible skill of coworker empathy. Cross training can be a standard practice for new hires and tenured employees to not only learn new skills but to learn what makes another role tick.
- Workplace Workshops. Group learning for group goals just makes sense. Learning together builds comradery and can help teams understand more than one aspect or department of a company. When everyone is learning together, they’re not only all learning the same content but they’re learning from each other. Everyone brings a different angle and different experiences, which makes hands-on/heads-together group learning fruitful. Try utilizing an employee that excels in a specific topic or hiring an external consultant/trainer to get your teams to make the right connections between all the roles.
The one thing that unites shadowing, cross training, and workplace workshops are time. It’s not easy to find extra hours or even days during the busy work week. Education and continued learning is an integral step in any company’s growth. Investing time and energy in education never disappoints. Set future appointments in your company’s calendar, whether it be monthly, quarterly or yearly. Making the time concrete is the first step.