Destruction from Within

How Internal Battles Are Killing Your Organization And What To Do About It

It's time you stopped fighting the wrong enemy. Internal battles - whether between individuals or between departments - destroy organizations, cause them to take their eyes off organizational goals, and ultimately result in failure.

I've seen operations fight with finance over budget allocations and sales battle with marketing over pricing. I've seen individuals try to take down, ridicule, and undermine others within the same group because of jealously and self-centeredness. They try to raise their status by attacking others. I'm not talking about healthy dialog about how to better an organization, I'm talking about all out battles that keep your organization from being the best it can be.

When this happens, the real enemies, your organization's competitors, make advances. In the end you squander opportunities and that costs you… big time.

What To Do About It

It's the leaders' job is to make sure this does not happen. If you know anything about me you know that I believe in grassroots leadership where everyone, from the entry level clerk to the CEO, plays a critical leadership role. This means it's everyone's job. Here's how to end your internal battles:

1. Create a set of guiding principles that establishes how your organization approaches work. Build those principles collaboratively as a team. From then on they become 'the price of admission.' If someone can't buy into your principles, they can't be on your team. Ours can be found here: http://www.wofford.edu/thespace/guidingprinciples/

2. Define your organizational or team objectives and promote them obsessively. When the sniping begins ask, "How is what you're talking about going to help us achieve these goals?"  

3. Celebrate and reward your team for excellence. This can be as small as a thank you, as average as a lunch, or as big as a bonus. The point is to reward excellence and reject mediocrity.

4. Rally around the strong performers being targeted. Instead of a tit for tat response, flood "the target" with encouragement and support for doing a great job. Don't fall into the trap of perpetuating destruction from within.

5. This one's going to be tough to do but it's important. Reach out to those creating the internal battles. Show how your focus is on the success of the organization and not the internal battles. Be prepared for something like, "Well, you're the one who is keeping us from being great so it's my duty to take you down!" If that happens, call your team and tell them to remember #4.

Hey look, every organization is going to have their share of friction and that's healthy.  But there's a huge difference between creative friction trying to make the organization better and behavior that's destructive.

Ultimately, your people and culture will determine how much destruction from within occurs. If everyone, from the top down, focuses on organizational objectives and truly enjoys winning as a team you have a great chance of succeeding.

It all starts with you.