Butting heads with some people, co-workers or clients you can’t stand working with? Stressed and frustrated because they prevent you from getting your job done rather than help? This stagnates growth, productivity and revenue. There’s no reason to tolerate toxic relationships when all it takes is a conversation to repair and reinvent it. Here’s how to make your job easier, successfully work together and be the person everyone loves working with.

Imagine what would be possible if everyone in your company was unconditionally supportive of each other and was accountable for developing healthy, empowering relationships; without the drama? Working within the confines of your team is one thing. However, marketing needs to play nicely with sales. Sales needs to play nicely with operations, finance, engineers and customer support to create mutually beneficial and supportive relationships that generate better results. The question is, what is the root cause of this isolation and competing responsibilities that prevents unified collaboration and the ability to focus on the overarching company vision, values and shared goals?

The Cause of Departmental Silos – And How to Create Unity

The answer is simple. Everyone has their own agenda and employees aren’t respecting other people’s role and goals. For example, the salesperson in the field needs an internal resource to close a deal or serve a customer. The typical approach is to contact the person who can help them. However, their focus is typically around what they need in the moment rather than what they can give. Moreover, they’re not considering the fact that your request isn’t the only request they get every day! As if they’re just sitting around waiting for you to call so they can respond immediately.

This creates pressure and strains every relationship. Departmental silos shut down collaboration, cause distention and compromise the results each person is looking to achieve. The irony is, at the end of the day, everyone is focused on the same goal! To deeply serve our external, as well as our internal customers – our peers.

So, what’s the solution to breaking down these silos to foster profitable collaboration instead of competing with other departments? A conversation is all it takes. In my prior article that you can find here, I’ve provided you with a foundation that will help repair and rebuild relationships. I’ve build upon this foundation by providing you with the talk track, as well as the questions you need to create a new and healthier outcome that will strengthen every relationship you have, especially with your co-workers. So, if you think it’s impossible to repair these relationships, here’s the solution to doing so. Brevity is not one of my stronger points, so take this template and make it your own, without compromising the spirit of the message.

Remember, this is your chance to take a positive stance, as these are the types conversations you have that help develop a fantastic personal brand, as well as internal and external advocates. These are the same people who can help you do your job with greater success and efficiency, and be the advocates you may need in your career to get promoted into your next position. Now, you have a mutually supportive network of people who are cheering you on, while creating a legacy to be proud of.

Repair Trust, Create Healthy Relationships and Make Everyone Love You

“Hey Jan. Do you have some time to talk about something I’ve observed that would help re-invent (reset) our relationship for the better and allow me to best support you in your role, so that we can collaborate towards our common goal while respecting your priorities and agenda?”

Jan, what I want for you is to feel that I am a trusted resource who supports you to achieve your goals.  Since we’re in different departments (roles) and are evaluated by different metrics, scorecards and key performance indicators, I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye when relying on each other to get our jobs done. We all have different priorities and points of view, and I may not have always given yours the attention or respect it deserves. So, I’m asking for your forgiveness, as I was guilty of doing this.

That’s why I can really use your help. I’d like to hit the reset button on our relationship and redesign how (our departments/we) interact and work together so we can support each other to achieve all our goals and are working as a unified front to do so.

I know there may be some things that were said or done that created the tension and disconnect between us and our (departments/role). That’s why I’d love to take the time to better understand your role, challenges, how you’re evaluated and your business objectives, so I can support you (and your department), while aligning our collective efforts to achieve our mutual goals.

So, let’s work together to re-design our relationship, clarify the best process for us to collaborate and the most effective way to communicate, even in the face of adversity or when working through a challenge. Setting these clear expectations would be beneficial for everyone and ultimately achieve the company’s common goal and shared vision. Are you open to breaking down and removing these costly barriers between (us/our departments) so that we can all achieve more by collaborating rather than competing or dealing with conflicts between us? Great, to start, may I ask some questions about your role, and feel free to ask me the same questions as well.”

27 Questions that Create Unified, Supportive Relationships

Once you have buy-in around this conversation, here are a handful of questions you can use.

  1. I’d love to learn more about your role and responsibilities. Would you mind sharing your job description so I can be more respectful of your role?
  2. How are you measured? By what criteria?
  3. Do you have your own scorecard and a defined set of key performance indicators?
  4. Can you help me understand the expectations the company and you manager have of you?
  5. What part of your role or the work we collaborate on is most difficult/stressful/frustrating for you? What do we need to do to work together in the most productive way?
  6. What do you see that’s working?
  7. In your opinion, what’s not working that we need to address?
  8. What’s your biggest concern regarding the immediate, timely requests I make?
  9. If we can redesign how we can work together, what would that look like?
  10. How do you like to collaborate?
  11. What’s your expectations or definition of exemplary, 5-Star customer service?
  12. What is your approach to dealing with a customer issue?
  13. If I need you for something, what’s your response time to avoid me putting more pressure on you?
  14. How do you typically like to communicate? (Face to face, phone, IM, text, email, etc.)
  15. If there’s a challenge that needs to be handled/addressed, what’s the best way for us to approach and resolve it? For you, what’s the best way for us to work together around this? How would you like me to approach you?
  16. Other than you, who else would you want me to contact in case of a timely need or challenge if I’m unable to contact you, without overstepping you and your role?
  17. If we don’t agree on something, what approach works best for us to create alignment?
  18. How can I best support you in your role?
  19. Let’s explore what we can do to align our efforts, as well as ensuring we’re consistent in our approach when it comes to supporting each other, so that we always meet our company and customers’ expectations?
  20. What are your thoughts on scheduling a meeting where you and I connect maybe once a week or so to ensure we’re continually aligned in our approach and objectives to avoid creating potential problems?
  21. May I ask, how you’re compensated?
  22. How do you typically like to communicate?
  23. What can we do to maintain our positive relationship?
  24. What would compromise our relationship?
  25. What concerns if any, do you have at this point?
  26. If we notice that we’re reverting to toxic behavior, can we come up with a way to communicate without offending each other?
  27. Given our conversation, what strategy can we put in place to ensure we’re achieving what we both want most?

“Jan, I appreciate your time and willingness to create a solution that would enable us to work as a team, since this will help create and maintain a positive relationship to ensure we continually support each other, meet your expectations and w0rk through any challenges that could arise. I’ll send you an email recapping what we’ve discussed to ensure alignment. What else, if anything, would you’d like to discuss before we wrap up this conversation?”

Stop Complaining and Start Repairing – Reciprocity Starts with You

The next step is up to you. You can retreat and give up or you have the ability to redesign healthy, supportive relationships with people who you you may have given up on. Reinventing relationships and creating new possibilities starts with a conversation. Use this approach, and I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

When you focus on helping others first, in turn, they will want to help you. This is how you’re going to be remembered and this is a powerful step to building a well-respected personal brand. Additionally, everyone achieves their goals together. After all, when you change the conversation, you change the outcome, and that includes making your life easier and more enjoyable.