Skip to main content
How to Develop Leaders

How to Get the Cross-Silo Collaboration You Need

Okay, so welcome to another one of my Todd talks, which always exists to give you ideas you can use immediately to improve your leadership, make a greater difference in the world, and help other people do the same. And the topic of today’s Todd talk is, how to make your problems other people’s priorities. And during it, we’re going to continue discussing how to get the collaboration that you need from other departments, functions, and organizational units to solve important problems for the business. And since you’re watching this video, you’re probably part of an organization and more likely than not, you’re a member of the human species. I bet this is something that you struggle with at least from time to time. And from our analysis of thousands of documented conversations, where departments didn’t get the collaboration that they needed from each other. I can tell you that one of the biggest collaboration blockers is something that I like to call tribal thinking.

And this particular mindset causes most leaders to fall into a fatal trap. Anytime they need to lead and collaborate across boundaries. And that’s pitching departments on why they should help you or change the way they do things, based upon our own priorities and not their priorities. This is one of the biggest framing traps that most leaders fall into across the world. And this is why I want to share a story that we received from Kate, who recently attended our leading beyond boundaries program because she had a profound breakthrough that I think all of us can learn from.

And here’s what she said in her own words. “I’d been struggling for six months to get the learning and development team, who report up through a different vertical, to improve the onboarding training they run for new hires across 12 sales teams in my organization. It’s vital that this training is done right because if our new salespeople don’t hit the ground running, we stand to lose a lot of customers and money.”

And this is exactly what was happening.

“New hires were coming to us completely unprepared. Despite receiving five days of training from learning. As a result, our sales leaders had to take their highest performers off their jobs to help train the new hires; spend weeks of their own time retraining new hires instead of supporting their existing teams; and the consequence was we were losing thousands of hours of productivity and millions of dollars to new sales; while also providing no consistency in the training for new hires. And I had reached the point where I thought we were going to have to revamp and deliver the entire onboarding training ourselves, because learning wouldn’t budge, because they were getting such great feedback from the new hire trainees. At the Leading Beyond Boundaries program, I realized that the conversations that I’d been having with learning were part of the problem. Even though I thought I explained myself well, I realized that I never connected our problem with their priorities.”

“I’d only talked about why this was a problem for me and my organization, but not for them and theirs. So, in preparation for my next conversation, I got a hold of their objectives and lo and behold, their top objective was, and I quote, to ensure performance readiness. So, in my next meeting, I told them that I understood this was their primary objective and asked them how they were measuring it. And to my surprise, they said, “Look, you’re right, we’re not measuring it properly. How do you suggest we do that?” I explained how my fellow sales leaders and I assessed readiness, and it seemed like a light bulb suddenly went off for them. They actually committed to redesigning the entire program right then and there, which is exactly what I wanted.”

“The new program is going to be a win on so many levels. It’s shifting from five days to five weeks. So, it’s going to be a lot more comprehensive. We’ll have a consistent approach across all new hires and their performance readiness is actually going to be measured during the program. And all of this is going to save our sales leaders and highest performers thousands of hours. And instead of handholding our new hires, they’ll be able to focus on their real jobs, serving customers and selling more business.”

So, as you can probably tell, I love hearing these stories from our clients because it demonstrates how small changes can make a big difference. And in this case, six months of frustration and no progress resolved and say about 30 minutes by simply reframing the problem from our colleagues’ perspectives.

While I can’t guarantee that doing this will get you the collaboration that you need all the time, I can guarantee that connecting your problems with your colleagues’ priorities will ensure that you and the issues that you care about will get the attention they deserve. So, thanks for listening. I hope you found this valuable, and I’ll see you next time.

Leave a Reply