You know as well as I do that there are people in your organization you enjoy working with, and those whom you don’t. If you work for a large corporation, your feelings may become lost in the crowd. If you are in a startup or small company with less than 20 employees, it’s hard to hide your feelings. If you are working closely with technical, engineering and sales professionals, the situation can seem like mixing oil with water.
One of the first signs that the wheels are coming off a startup is when everyone is at odds with one another. If you are in a small, family-owned business, however, this type of dysfunction may be the status quo and, unfortunately sanctioned, norm. Along the sales-engineering interface®, tension between disciplines can become so palpable that you can cut it with a knife.
You are all playing in the same sandbox, every day.
You shouldn’t be playing games, either. Your startup is your passion. Your small business is your livelihood. You have perfected your technical and engineering expertise over the years. You are a business development rock star.
Regardless of where you fit into this equation, when you aren’t able to collaborate effectively with the rest of the team, it drains everyone’s energy at best. At worst, the situation can degenerate into a business-threatening sideshow.
There’s one key strategy for remedying this scenario. Communication. Top-down, bottom-up, and sideways. What’s the communication situation in your Sandbox?
If you don’t communicate:
- it’s hard to play well with the other kids when you don’t know the rules of the game you are playing.
- it’s frustrating to play well with the other kids when the rules are constantly changing or only apply to certain players on the team.
- it’s difficult to create deliverables that are valuable to colleagues and customers when you constantly feel you will have your legs taken out from under you by a team member going rogue.
- it’s irritating to have a team meeting and find out afterwards that various factions are pulling in different directions, towards different objectives.
- it’s challenging to go to weekly team meetings never knowing which team is going to show up.
- it’s bothersome to have certain individuals take up everyone’s time with drama and petty differences.
- it’s painful when the biggest impediment to collaboration and synergy is the CEO of the company, and their sons, daughters, and family members.
- it’s burdensome to be made to feel like you are on the outside, looking in, rather than being respected as a Person of Worth.
- it’s not easy to learn the language of the folks seated around the table, so that they better understand what you are talking about.
- it’s Herculean to learn the language and mindset of sales when you’ve been so immersed in engineering and IT and peer discussions.
- it’s easier said than done to concede that your marketing research and sales data are qualitative impressions now quantified, which perhaps don’t stand up to the scrutiny of your scientific and technical colleagues.
- it’s formidable to tear down discipline-driven, status quo mindset and corporate departmental silos (even in small companies with less than 5 employees) and learn to collaborate and work cross-functionally.
How valuable is the breadth and depth of your team’s experience and knowledge? This realization can make a difference in your bottom line. Develop a robust and healthy corporate culture that your customers want to continue investing in.
It begins by scrutinizing the dynamics of your business sandbox. For starters, try communicating. What’s in your Business Sandbox?
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo back into small and mid-sized businesses, particularly in the manufacturing sector. She builds vibrant revenue-producing business strategies for technical start-ups seeking investors and early customers. Download her newest White Paper at her Free Resources Page.