Engineering and Business Teams: Oil and Water or Chocolate and Peanut Butter?
Last week Entrepreneur ran a piece I wrote called “Three Steps to Happy Collaboration Between Your Engineering and Business Teams”. In it I cover a few basic management strategies for fostering great teamwork among employees who often have very different backgrounds and perspectives.
In my research for the Entrepreneur piece, I came across “Five Rules for Interdepartmental Peace and Prosperity,” which points out that if you’ve built a workplace that is respectful and fun to begin with, the likelihood of friction between business and engineering even developing is much lower. In it, the author writes:
“If I hire someone to do a job, it’s because I believe him or her to be more competent than I am in that particular area, and it’s critical that I empower the people I manage to make any and all decisions in their particular realm of expertise…Marketing serves a crucial role in a successful business, as does Engineering. For these to mesh well together, strong, mutual respect is vital.”
I couldn’t agree more. I actually think that one of the most important jobs you have as a manager is to cultivate this atmosphere of respect. Naturally modeling respect is therefore key. Acknowledge who is the expert in a given area. Demonstrate how to gracefully disagree with someone while simultaneously expressing genuine regard for their knowledge. And always show that you value creative-problem solving and know that that can come from anyone, in any department.