Question Page

What's your advice on improving a historically tense relationship between functions?

6 Answers
Tamara Niesen
Tamara Niesen
WooCommerce CMODecember 5

Understand how each of you are wired. Personality tests are helpful here, especially as it relates to how someone makes decisions, and how they like to receive or give feedback. And then, I prefer to rip off the bandaid, meet face to face (screens are okay too) and share objective feedback. If you need to work together to be successful, it’s worth the time and effort to understand the situation, behavior and impact each of you has had on each other. Both parties need to accept the feedback, even if it’s brutally hard to hear/accept. Once you have shared the feedback, take the time to digest, have a follow up conversation and align on a path forward, what needs to happen in order to build trust and commit. If you aren’t committed or genuine, this won’t work. High degree of care and candor is essential.

826 Views
Erika Barbosa
Erika Barbosa
Counterpart Marketing LeadFebruary 22

It’s challenging to improve a historically tense relationship. It takes time and mutual respect. The key is to create an environment that is a safe space. Model and foster an environment of communication, transparency and empathy. Know that you will need patience as you work to create a more collaborative relationship.

It’s important to meet people where they are at. Why has there been a tense relationship? What’s within your control that you can do to help improve the situation? How do you help support others to improve the relationship? Think deeply about the answers to these types of questions.

406 Views
Kexin Chen
Kexin Chen
Salesforce Vice President, C-Suite MarketingApril 25

For historically tense relationships, one of my coaches has given me a fantastic framework:

  1. Take a step back and request time to address your relationship. Request the time to discuss this so they aren't blindsided and have time to think about what they'd want to share.

  2. In the meeting, both sides share a rating of 1-10 with 10 being an incredible relationship, where they stand. Have a discussion on how to raise the rating and what is needed from both ends. Be vulnerable and share where your challenges have existed and the stories you're telling yourself.

  3. Agree on a cadence for check-ins and ensure you're both committed and celebrate the stronger relationship.

810 Views
Katie Jane Parkes
Katie Jane Parkes
Nexus Communications VP of CreativeOctober 3

Here's some steps I would take:

  • Acknowledge the current state of the relationship, don't shy away from that

  • Create a team charter for your own discipline/function and share it with the team you have a tense relationship with to reset expectations around how your team works and how you will engage with and work with other teams

  • Try to plan something fun together that will enhance cultural dynamics and ease tension

  • Set goals for that quarter/next projects together so you're both approaching upcoming work from a state of collective achievement

If these things don't work, then potentially having some mediated conversations with key stakeholders that are causing the tension might be an option in moving forward. Sometimes people need to get things off their chest in a safe space in order to really move on and rebuild trust.

356 Views
Sheridan Gaenger
Sheridan Gaenger
Own VP of Growth MarketingJune 12

Conflict results when trust has been broken. As leaders, part of our job is to pioneer change and drive culture forward, often stepping into roles where historical conflict has been present. However, being present doesn't mean the conflict has to be constant. Resolution is a path, not a switch, and most cross-team conflicts resolve when trust is re-established.

To regain that trust, you need to eliminate silos as much as possible, starting in the planning cycle. Involve people in this process. One of my personal philosophies is "no surprises." None of your stakeholders should be shocked when a program is launched or an event is secured. If you plan together, you carry the accountability bag together. You win together.

To improve a historically tense relationship between functions, establish regular, structured communication forums such as joint meetings, cross-functional workshops, or team-building activities. This helps break down barriers and fosters open dialogue. Align both functions around shared objectives, clearly articulating how each contributes to the organization's overall success, emphasizing mutual benefits.

Ensure that leaders from both functions are committed to resolving tensions and modeling collaborative behavior. Their buy-in is crucial for driving cultural change. Conduct a thorough analysis to understand the underlying issues causing the tension, possibly involving confidential surveys, interviews, or facilitated discussions.

Encourage team members to understand each other's roles, challenges, and pressures through job shadowing or role-swapping, which can build empathy. Implement clear, agreed-upon processes and workflows to reduce misunderstandings and conflicts, documenting roles, responsibilities, and expectations to clarify ambiguities.

Acknowledge and reward collaborative efforts publicly, as recognizing successes can motivate continued cooperation and reinforce positive behavior. Equip team members with conflict resolution and communication skills, empowering them to handle disagreements constructively and professionally.

Create channels for continuous feedback and improvement, regularly soliciting input on what's working and what needs adjustment to keep the relationship on track. If tensions are particularly high, consider bringing in a neutral third party to facilitate discussions and mediate conflicts, helping to reach fair and unbiased resolutions.

By taking these steps, you can transform a historically tense relationship into a productive and collaborative partnership, ultimately enhancing overall organizational performance.

164 Views
Laura Lewis
Laura Lewis
Addigy Director | Head of MarketingApril 25

In the case where you are new to an organization and trying to improve the relationship with another team there are three things to do first.

  1. Listen - Ask a lot of questions. Understand what the function is responsible for, the current projects they are working on, their goals and challenges, and what went wrong in the past.

  2. Learn - Don't be afraid to ask more questions about the details if anything is unclear or if you don't feel that you could explain the specifics to someone else later. Ask for material to read as a follow-up, and actually read it.

  3. Collaborate - Bring new ideas to the other function, discuss them, and build a plan together that ensures that both teams are getting what they need from the project.

When you are not new to an organization but a tense relationship has built up over time, the only way to truly resolve it is to have an honest conversation with the team leader. These are never easy to have, but you both need to be honest about how you might have acted in the past and come out on the other side ready to move forward.

333 Views
Top Demand Generation Mentors
Erika Barbosa
Erika Barbosa
Counterpart Marketing Lead
Matt Hummel
Matt Hummel
Pipeline360 Vice President of Marketing
Keara Cho
Keara Cho
Salesforce Sr. Director, Field Marketing
Sheridan Gaenger
Sheridan Gaenger
Own VP of Growth Marketing
Sheena Sharma
Sheena Sharma
Heap Vice President, Marketing Acquisition & Growth
Adam Kaiser
Adam Kaiser
6sense VP, Growth Marketing
Kexin Chen
Kexin Chen
Salesforce Vice President, C-Suite Marketing
Mindy Servello
Mindy Servello
Calendly Head of Demand Generation
Kanchan Belavadi
Kanchan Belavadi
Snowflake Head of Enterprise Marketing, India
Laura Lewis
Laura Lewis
Addigy Director | Head of Marketing