Informed interaction

You need to know what your co-workers do

You thought it took only a day to process a one-page invoice. That explains your frustration at the fact that it’s two days later, and you still haven’t received anything from the accounting department. “What the heck are they doing over there?” you wonder. But if you had known the process actually took three days, not counting the stack that came before yours, you could have better arranged your schedule-and kept your anger at bay.

For many professionals, scenarios like this one are all too familiar. Requests from one department to another aren’t treated in a timely manner and projects are ruined. Conflict can arise when one department doesn’t understand what another one does.

“Knowledge is power,” says Joyce Gioia, a certified management consultant with the Herman Group in Greensboro, North Carolina. “Many people believe that if they keep it to themselves, they will remain powerful.” While this may be true for individuals, it has no place in an environment where cooperation is crucial.

For a company to run smoothly, everyone needs to have at least a working knowledge of what others do. Gioia offers tips that everyone can follow to get the peace that surpasses office understanding:

  • Inquire about cross-training.
  • Talk to human resources to see if they will sponsor sessions on the responsibilities and inner workings of each department.
  • Communicate. The hesitancy to share information is a major barrier to interoffice cooperation. “When you share knowledge, you become a team member who appreciates the full enterprise,” says Gioia.
  • Do your own investigating. Have lunch with co-workers from other departments. Ask them to describe a typical day in their domain.
ACROSS THE WEB