“Good things happen when you meet strangers.”— Yo Yo Ma, Chinese American cellist.
One thing you can count on when working for a large organization is working with people from other teams (click to tweet). Each team has its own dynamic, processes, procedures, and level of team trust; so when you’re thrust into a situation where you have to cooperate for the first time, there may be uncertainty until you build bridges leading you all to common ground. Usually, this happens naturally over time; but life is a lot less complicated when you make a concerted effort to set aside your differences, emphasize your commonalities, and engage smoothly with the familiar strangers who happen to be your co-workers.
So do what you can to smooth the transition, even if you fail to understand the reason for it. In this economy—in any economy—the smart worker willingly takes on whatever needs doing. Always show your willingness to work with even the most unfamiliar co-workers.
Try these four ways to build that common-ground bridge:
- Establish a shared methodology. Sit down with the other team and hammer out who will do what, and how you’ll do it. An amalgam or “alloy” of your processes and procedures and theirs may result in something unexpectedly useful. Document the methodology and publish it for both teams to use—and enforce that usage so you complete the job the organization needs you to do with a minimum of fuss.
- Split the project into manageable parts, each with its own milestones and deadlines. Once you nail down the responsibilities for each team, the team leads can then pass individual parts or tasks on to the appropriate teammates.
- Meet frequently so everyone stays on the same page. This is one case where meetings are absolutely essential. Weekly meetings may prove sufficient, but you also have the option of short daily team briefings. They need not be face-to-face; IM, chat, and teleconferencing work fine, especially when facilitated by a specific work group member and followed up with minutes taken and organized by another member. Alternately, the team leads can serve as central hubs and clearinghouses for all information shared within and between the teams.
- Meet socially. It’s so much easier to work with unfamiliar co-workers when they aren’t really strangers. Rather than remaining self-contained except for meetings, organize group lunches, icebreakers, or even a retreat, where you can hang out together in your off time.
Admittedly, having leadership suddenly pair you with a group of people you don’t know can jarring. Resistance may in fact be futile, but your upper management isn’t like Star Trek‘s Borg; they’ve paired you because doing so was the best way to solve a problem the company’s facing. Assume they know what they’re doing, and do your best to assimilate.
© 2016 Laura Stack. Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on employee and team productivity. She is the president of The Productivity Pro, Inc., a company dedicated to helping leaders increase workplace performance in high-stress environments. Stack has authored seven books, including Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (January 18, 2016). She is a past president of the National Speakers Association, and in 2015 was inducted into its exclusive Speaker Hall of Fame (with fewer than 175 members worldwide). Stack’s clients include Cisco Systems, Wal-Mart, and Bank of America, and she has been featured on the CBS Early Show and CNN, and in the New York Times. To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401 or visit her website.