How to promote peace when department wars rage

By: Judy Kneiszel

Publication: Employee Relations Management Today

Date Posted: 04/09/2021

Peace between company departments

Have your employees been spending more time lately complaining about other departments, or placing blame on other teams for mistakes and problems?

In challenging times, it’s easy to cast blame or take sides. Maybe your staff is divided between remote employees and onsite workers and members of each group have implied that the other group is slacking off. Or maybe there were furloughs or layoffs in one department, but another was spared, causing suspicion and resentment among remaining members of the affected group.

A little competition between departments can be healthy, as long no one loses sight of the organization’s mission and goals. Poor communication between departments, however, can cause your organization to miss out on creative and innovative opportunities for collaboration.

Department “wars” if left unchecked, can lead to staff turnover, decreased engagement, and a steep decline in productivity.

Take steps to stop the war

Foster an attitude of collaboration, not confrontation, in your group by taking the following steps:

  • Stop the rumor mill. Address any false narratives you become aware of. Be as transparent as you can about why changes have been made or how that “other” department is contributing to overall company goals.
  • Respect roles. Employees must understand one another’s processes and goals, while also being flexible with their own. They need to know how the work they do fits with the big picture of your organization, and that means understanding the roles of other employees, departments, and locations as well.
  • Encourage interaction. Creating cross-functional teams for projects or initiatives when possible. This encourages relationships between employees who wouldn’t normally interact. It’s especially helpful when employees never interact organically because they don’t work in the same facility due to remote work or multiple locations. Giving employees from different teams, departments, or locations an opportunity to work together can help them understand one another’s perspectives and establish relationships that can be beneficial down the road.
  • Ask for help. If the communication issues reman unresolved, despite your efforts, you must relay any interdepartmental challenges to senior management so the problems can be addressed at a corporate level.

About the author
Judy Kneiszel - Human Resources Editor

Judy is an Associate Editor on the Human Resources Publishing Team and she specializes in issues such as recruiting and hiring, onboarding and training, employee communication and discipline, managing problems, team building, inclusion, employee retention, and labor relations

Expert Help Icon

Have a compliance question for Judy? The J. J. Keller Expert Help tool provides you direct access to Judy and other trusted experts to help answer your toughest compliance questions.