Company rivalries

Shawnee Love   •  
July 30, 2010

For a bit of fun on a sunny Friday, I want to share some examples of age old business rivalries.  Not like Coke and Pepsi, or Burger King vs. McDonalds, and not even Mac vs. PC but rather the rivalries we can all relate to because we have lived them.

I am talking about the rivalries between departments.They are sources of frustration, time wasters, and instigators of conflict, and as such they hold organizations back. They can happen any time, at any stage of the company life cycle and in any organization.

In these rivalries you hear things like:

Sales vs. Marketing

Marketing girl: “Sales never uses the leads I give them and they complain about no sales materials.  Why should I do all that work on sales tools if they aren’t going to use them?”

Sales guy: “Marketing’s leads are crap and the materials don’t fit what we are selling or what our customers want. Where do they get their information from because it sure isn’t the customer?”

Sales vs. Operations

Sales chick: I am always on Operations to give me the product when the customer needs it.  Don’t they understand that if they piss off the customer, the sales go away and then they don’t have a job?”

Operations dude: Those sales chicks are always calling and expecting us to drop what we are working on to answer their questions or they make impossible promises that we have to deliver. Don’t they realize that if we are always interrupted and dealing with ad hoc requests, we won’t meet any of our deliverables, and they won’t have anything to sell?”

HR vs. Sales

HR dude: “Yeesh.  Another call from our sales team. I easily spend 80% of my time cleaning up their messes.  With firing people who don’t work out because they don’t mentor, train or manage them, and the harassment claims because they keep referring to their coordinators as “honey” and “baby”, I swear you think people who deal with people all day would have more sensitivity.”

Sales guy: “I am so sick of the HR guys in their ivory tower trying to tell me how to run my business. If they ever left their dream state and came out into the real world, they would realize that we pay their salary.  We need them to help us rather than police us, drown us in red tape or suffocate us with a Politically Correct Pillow.”

Does any of this sound even remotely familiar? While I have paraphrased and taken out some of the more colourful language, I based these examples on real conversations I have had over the last 10 years.

Why the disconnect? Aren’t we all on the same team?

In my opinion, the reasons for the rivalries stem from three causes:

  • Lack of a shared purpose or common goal,
  • Ego left unchecked and often encouraged, and/or
  • Lack of understanding of the role each department plays.

To reduce these rivalries the way forward is to:

  • Create and communicate a common purpose,
  • Encourage confidence and collective pride but not at the expense of others, and
  • Ensure every department knows how they contribute to the common purpose and who their internal customers and suppliers are.

What do you think?

p.s. No intention to pick on sales here. It clearly takes two to tango.