Sunday, December 15, 2019

Caught in a cross-departmental fight of managers, how to safeguard yourself?

With increased pressure on margins and slowing growth rate, its common to be caught in a cross-departmental fight of managers. Imagine that, you are in a regular meeting, and there’s suddenly a tiff between the managers of two departments. And unfortunately you are in the centre of it. You are hoping the issue would be resolved, but it seems to be getting worse? There’s really no escaping for you because your role entails working with both of them. And the last thing you want to do is get caught in this mess. Here’s how you can safeguard yourself:

Conduct yourself professionally

In case you are caught in a cross-departmental fight of managers, no matter what, you have to keep a straight and professional approach to the entire scenario. It is possible that either manager would come to your desk and badmouth the other. It is best to refrain from saying anything negative — even if you are tempted to. It would just reflect poorly on your image. You should try to direct the conversation elsewhere and focus on work rather than discuss such behaviour. In this reference, do make sure that you do not favour either party. Doing so may get you into trouble. Complete your assignment on time and ensure there’s no lapse from your side.

Provide context

The next step would be providing context to both parties. You should try and encourage them to sort out the issue rather than letting it get worse. You can try a number of things like involving a senior manager to help straighten things out. Alternatively, you can reasonably explain to the involved parties that their fights or rifts would impact the sanctity of the project. Hence, it is best to keep a professional front and sort things out.

Try to develop a neutral language

The root cause of most office arguments is confusion. You can try to involve both parties individually and explain the reasoning of the other side. Encourage them to look from the other’s perspective too. Empathising is a sensible way to help them see the point of view of the other party. Cross-functional communication can be done through a variety of mediums. Doing so will not only help improve the work situation, but by maintaining transparency on the work front, you can actually help to make the task faster and quicker.

Don’t ignore it

Simply put, office politics and fights are an everyday affair, and most workplaces do have it at some point or the other. But ignoring the same is not going to help you accomplish much. On the contrary, it would only imply more issues for you. Whether you are a part of any of the teams or a different one altogether, you should embrace the fact that this issue would require some sorting out.

Celebrate your accomplishments

Another way to help settle the issue between two managers and safeguard yourself would be to celebrate the completion of a project. Since you would have to work with both parties, it is best to encourage them to meet for a casual lunch, or a small get together to celebrate the occasion. Often, meeting outside work or in a more relaxed ambience helps to sort and straighten things out.

Do keep in mind that office politics could turn ugly. You should absolutely avoid taking sides or support one particular manager. In case you feel the situation is getting out of hand or is something you cannot handle, ask a senior or the HR to intervene without taking your name or being directly involved. This may help to sort things out faster and you will be able to safeguard yourself, when caught in a cross-departmental fight of managers.

Jappreet Sethi

Jappreet Sethi
I am a HR & Business Strategy professional with experience of leading HR & People Consulting practice of multinational professional services firms. I specialize in designing & delivering dynamic learning experiences in service of human development. I have over a decade of experience across various facets of HR and Process Consulting. I am a Six-Sigma Black Belt along with a certification in using Lean for process improvement. I am also a certified user for psychometric instruments like MBTI, FIRO, CPI & Saville Consulting Suite; I am among the few in India who specialize in using Art and Drama for Leadership Development and Personal Counseling. I have been rated twice as one of the Top 100 employee engagement experts in the world by a New York Times bestselling author.

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