Turfs wars can derail progress on a project quicker than any other kind of conflict in the workplace. Offering your staff conflict management training on how to deal with that type of situation will save morale and productivity from plummeting—and will lead to stronger interdepartmental relationships, which will undoubtedly be valuable down the line.
When you notice the signs of impending turf wars (e.g. departmental cliques in the break room, “That’s not our responsibility!” complaints, information hoarding), take measures to protect your team and your organization from unnecessary conflicts. Advice like this can end the battle before it even begins:
- Limit the potential for “silo mentality.” Reinforce the idea that your organization needs everyone to pull together. Cross-train employees across job functions and departments. Encourage staffers to communicate with co-workers in other areas, offering assistance during busy times and bench-marking best practices.
- Brainstorm across functions and departments. Instead of holding managers’ meetings, marketing department meetings and so forth, mix it up at least once in a while. Include an engineer and a customer service representative in the next sales meeting. Invite an entry-level worker and a senior front-line employee to attend a planning session. Show that you value outside input by listening to others’ ideas and respecting their experience and input.
- Make sure roles are crystal clear. On any given project that includes multiple departments, make sure everyone knows exactly what they are supposed to be doing. Additionally, clarify who reports to whom and who has authority and decision-making power in key areas. For example, a good bit of conflict arises, because employees aren’t sure to whom they should listen (i.e., their supervisor or the project lead) when priorities compete.
If your problem has less to do with cross-departmental relationships and more to do with turf wars on your own team, check out this video to learn key steps for unifying your team.