Manager's Tips and Tools

by Manager Development Services

Dealing with interdepartmental rivalry / animosity


It’s interesting that I often find myself dealing with managers of other departments within my same company, and at times, even upper management who appear jealous or envious of how my department operates.  I can understand envy when my department continually exceeds expectations.  I can understand jealousy when other managers fear they may be forced to change.  What really amazes me though are those who contrive to sabotage my department just because it’s different.  I have actually heard people say, “It’s just not done that way.”

Most managers are competitive when it comes to winning the favor of upper management.  Many believe this is how to climb the corporate ladder (show the “big dogs” that I’m tough and can run with them).  Some will even become hostile when faced with the threat of someone looking better than them.  This is when I need to be vigilant in observing our corporate culture.  The threat of ambush is highest when other managers feel threatened and begin to align themselves against my department.

Just like I do with my department, I look for red flags, float balloons, read body language, and peal onions.  If I am observant, I can detect the antagonist(s) and prepare for confrontation – for there will be confrontation.

There are two types of ambushes to look out for; overt and covert.  The overt ambush is the easiest to detect and confront.  These are usually managers who are blatantly outspoken in their criticism of my department.   They are usually up front with their opinions and make no bones about it.  They will confront me in front of peers at corporate meetings, making their disapproval known and citing reasons why my philosophy won’t work and why it hurts the other departments and the business as a whole.

When confronting this type of ambush, it’s important I respond and not react.  As we’ve already learned, when I react I always shoot myself in the foot.  When I react, I automatically put myself on the defensive and feel I have to justify my philosophy.  This becomes apparent in my actions, attitude, and demeanor and translates to others as uncertainty.

The reality is, I have nothing to be uncertain about.  If I believe in Managing from the Heart I do not have to defend it.  It will speak for itself in long-term sustainable results.  Instead, I smile and nod as though this person hasn’t a clue of what he’s talking about – and in fact, he hasn’t.  This also will become apparent in my actions, attitude, and demeanor and translates to others as confidence and certitude.

I don’t need to defend my philosophy, and I’m careful not to attack someone else’s either.  By attacking another’s philosophy, I demonstrate pettiness and envy, while validating their position and engender sympathy and support for their cause.  In other words, I’ve allowed them to push my buttons and they’ve got me playing their game.

The covert ambush is more difficult to detect and must be confronted with caution.  These managers are subtle in their criticism, deceitful in their praise, and at times, may even appear supportive.  In front of upper management, they may praise my department, and in the very next sentence, say how sorry they are that my department lost a certain deal or didn’t meet quota.  They will then offer their advice or help which, of course, they never intend to really give.  These managers will usually put on a good show.

It’s easy to get sucked into playing their game if I’m not careful.  When I am passionate about something it’s only natural to want to protect it.  The effectivity of Open Heaven will speak for itself.  Again, I will protect Open Heaven, but I don’t have to defend it.  If I am living the principles of Open Heaven then others, including upper management, will see it demonstrated in my actions (remember the orange).

If I am honest and open in my dealings, others will often misconstrue this as naiveté, interpret my actions as weakness, and try to exploit it.  It’s sad, really, that honesty and integrity are often viewed in the business world as weakness.  I may play according to a different set of rules, but I am not a fool.  And anyone who underestimates me will be sorely corrected.

In essence, my department’s record will stand on its own.  It will be evident what is really going on.  Ambushers and saboteurs betray themselves in the long run and my department’s integrity will stay intact.

When dealing individually with other managers who are envious, jealous, hostile, or competitive, I must understand the frustration, confusion, and fear which is motivating them.  By understanding where they are coming from I can respond instead of react.  Practicing patience, I will offer explanation and assistance.   By offering friendship, I will be more likely to alleviate opposition.  Eventually, others will realize I am not a threat and resistance will subside.

-excerpt from “The Manager as Orchestra Leader”

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February 24, 2011 - Posted by | Counseling Techniques, Employee Coaching, Leadership Skills, Manager Development Tools, Mentoring, Personal Development, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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