mind your business: Internal Partnering:
Most large organizations employ alliance managers to facilitate external strategic alliances. Yet, oftentimes, little attention is paid to internal partnering. When it is, the HR department generally is charged with the task of improving interdepartmental relationships. And, HR doesn't always have the authority to do what needs to be done.
Recently, I was doing work for a larger manufacturer. The company desired alliance instruction for both external and internal applications. After some investigation, I realized there were two elements within the culture of the manufacturer that stood between where it was, and where it wanted to be.
The first impediment was deeply ingrained in the organization's DNA: the "Good Old Boy" dynamic. This is commonly found in organizations that have been around for some time. It is natural to want to work with people who make us feel comfortable—even if someone newer to the organization might be better equipped to perform particular tasks.
Another problem is the method of compensation for division heads. For example, if the executive vice president is rewarded solely on the performance of his or her division, there is a strong disincentive to cooperate and collaborate with other divisions or business units.
"Good Old Boys" Don't Collaborate
Alliances can be valuable when partners bring their unique differences to the table. These differences generally are apparent in the core competencies of an organization, division or individual. However, when decision-making is left to the "Good Old Boys," developing total organizational value takes a backseat to working with people who increase their comfort level. This "comfort-first" mentality clouds their judgment in selecting others who can deliver innovative value. The result is organizational lethargy and discontentment in the ranks.
Division Heads Who Can't Partner
Where's the incentive to build collaborative internal relationships between business units if success is measured by single unit performance and profitability? Who's going to care about the performance of other business units in an organization unless there are financial consequences? When there is no interrelationship, there is no motivation to collaborate.
So what's a CEO to do? Start out by rearranging the financial motivation of division heads. Part of their compensation should be related directly to their division or business unit, and a large part should be tied into the organization's total performance and profitability. Now there is true motivation for internal partnering and alliance building.
Dismantling the "Good Old Boys" network is a bit trickier. While you, the CEO, don't want to micromanage, you still have to enforce policies to assure the best candidate is promoted to a leadership position. Otherwise, there will be constant turnover of executives. If employees who are perfectly qualified to climb the corporate ladder only see the boss's buddies getting the promotions, they will not stay long.
Policies to thwart the "Good Old Boys" include those that help justify promotions. Your organization has desirable qualities that are preferred in supervisors, middle managers and other division heads. But, do you have measurement vehicles to help the truly qualified rise above the rest? These personnel measurement vehicles urge the "Good Old Boys" to select the correct person for the promotion based not on comfort level, but performance.
Copyright © 2008-2012 Ed Rigsbee.
By Ed Rigsbee, CSP, CAE
Ed Rigsbee, CSP, CAE, has been fumbling, bumbling and stumbling his way through the organizational mazes of for-profits and non-profits for more than 40 years. For the last two decades, Rigsbee has been an observer, researcher and teacher—helping organizations of all sizes to build successful internal and external collaborative relationships. He travels internationally to deliver keynote presentations and workshops on successful alliance relationships. In addition to serving as the president of Rigsbee Research, Rigsbee also serves as the executive director of a public non-profit 501(c)(3) charity. He has authored three books and more than 2,000 articles helping organizations to take full advantage of their potential. Contact Rigsbee when you need a speaker or consultant on partnering at www.rigsbee.com.