Finding a meeting of the minds between Marketing and IT can be challenging. That’s not surprising, since the two groups can be so different in so many ways – training, work background, problem-solving approaches, goals, etc.
But the importance of working through those differences has increased, as IT and business departments work more closely than ever.
Next time you’re part of one of those ‘what do we need to do, and how do we get it done’ negotiation sessions between IT and Marketing, here are a few things to try. These tips can facilitate the meeting negotiations, and hopefully lead to a better working relationship between the two departments.
That applies to everyone in the meeting, IT and Marketing alike. The company hired each individual for a reason, so own your expertise.
The best problem-solving happens with a diverse group where different viewpoints are voiced, so embrace your differences as you search for a solution. Common-sense rules of civility must prevail, of course. Make sure ground rules are understood, but don’t be afraid of lively discussion.
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Accept that you bring a unique perspective to the table, and so does the other party. That means there will be some things you don’t understand. That’s OK – embrace the unknown with curiosity.
If you’re unfamiliar with terminology being used, strategies described, processes outlined – ask. The more you approach interdepartmental projects with curiosity, the closer you get to an understanding of the big picture. It’s entirely possible that you will learn something that transforms a problem you’re working on, or inspires a radical improvement to a process already in place. You never know how much you don’t know.
Know what you want
Everyone in the meeting has goals, and they’re not the same. Put all of the goals out there and hash out the common area.
Don’t start your meeting offering a diluted, compromised goal. Negotiate from honesty to find a solution that works for all parties.
Both Marketing and IT should be clear about what they need. Even though it may be difficult, being straightforward up-front will pay off in the long run.
For example, Marketing might state “This product needs to launch in three months to beat our major competitor to market before the big industry trade show.” IT might counter “We don’t want IT employees pulling all-nighters or working through the weekends. We’re already short on staff, so we don’t want to overwork anyone so they quit.”
Sometimes the best solutions are unexpected.
Be equally honest about the parameters of time, budget and resources – such as ‘we only have X to spend’ or ‘product must launch on X date.’ There will be give-and-take, but at least both parties will fully understand and appreciate any concessions being made.
Don’t shut down discussion about ways around the identified constraints, such as a phased timetable, collaboration with another business unit/area, alternative use of resources, etc. Sometimes the best solutions are unexpected.
Keep talking until details are resolved. Insist if necessary.
If you capitulate when frustrated, you’ve likely left issues unresolved. When one or both parties just give in without explanation, those unresolved issues will create problems as the project progresses. Try to avoid those situations with adequate discussion from the start.
Press on until everyone is assured that things are covered, that detailed points have been raised and settled satisfactorily. It helps to have next steps and deadlines in writing for mutual accountability.
You have more in common with your colleagues than you think. Especially if you need to work through tensions together, find common ground and connect. Grab coffee for the team at the start of an early meeting. Crack some jokes together when it’s all over. Connect with your teammates on a human level, and that will smooth over so many bumps in the road.
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