How Do You Handle Conflicts Between Departments?

How Do You Handle Conflicts Between Departments?

When departmental disputes arise, HR professionals are often at the helm of navigating these choppy waters, as an HR Manager reveals the importance of cross-functional collaboration. Alongside expert strategies, we've also gathered additional answers that provide a broader perspective on conflict resolution within organizations. From the implementation of established protocols to the enforcement of unified company objectives, discover the diverse approaches to mediating interdepartmental conflicts.

  • Bridge Gaps with Cross-Functional Collaboration
  • Facilitate Workshops for Shared Goals
  • Introduce Cross-Departmental Liaison Roles
  • Follow Established Conflict Resolution Protocols
  • Implement Mandatory Mediation Sessions
  • Empower Through Rotating Leadership
  • Engage a Neutral Third-Party Ombudsman
  • Enforce Unified Company Objectives

Bridge Gaps with Cross-Functional Collaboration

In tech companies, particularly, a primary source of inter-departmental conflict can stem from a lack of understanding of functional differences. Although teams may share the same overall company goals, results require unique, team-specific goals from each department. Frustration and confusion may arise from a misalignment of priorities and timelines, particularly where cross-training is not prioritized. When not addressed effectively, this can lead to tension and resentment.

To quickly and effectively resolve this type of conflict, HR leaders can actively seek insight from all perspectives and bridge identified gaps in understanding. Alternatively, HR can affect problem-solving through coaching and facilitating improved communication between the relevant managers:

Causes of Conflict:

  • Teams pursue goals from unique paths.
  • Teams lack comprehension of other departments' processes, methods, and goals.
  • Teams using different operational 'languages,' i.e., tech, sales, and marketing.


  • Fostering cross-functional collaboration to understand different angles/approaches.
  • Enhancing communication and education on goals and processes to encourage empathy and understanding.
  • Leadership can support 'translation' efforts by aligning concepts and drawing parallels for comprehension.

Application of these solutions can enhance a culture of understanding and solution-based communication, reducing future misunderstandings while encouraging collaboration.

Taryn Meadows
Taryn MeadowsHR Manager, Freethink Media Inc.

Facilitate Workshops for Shared Goals

In a situation where I had to mediate a conflict between our sales and marketing departments, I started by understanding each department's concerns through separate meetings. It became clear that a breakdown in communication and misaligned goals were the root causes.

To tackle this, I facilitated a joint workshop where both teams could openly discuss their workflows and expectations. We focused on establishing clear, shared goals and improving communication protocols. The key to resolving the conflict was creating a space for open dialogue and mutual understanding, which helped realign both teams towards common objectives, enhancing collaboration moving forward. This experience underscored the importance of direct communication in resolving departmental conflicts and building stronger team relationships.

Ana Alipat
Ana AlipatRecruitment Team Lead, Dayjob Recruitment

Introduce Cross-Departmental Liaison Roles

I've been directly involved in mediating conflicts between our tech and sales departments. One significant situation required addressing differing priorities between the teams, which impacted project timelines and customer satisfaction. The key to resolving this conflict was fostering open, structured communication between the departments. We facilitated a series of meetings where each team could outline their concerns and priorities.

Understanding and acknowledging the pressures each department faced was crucial. We introduced a cross-departmental liaison role to ensure ongoing dialogue and a clearer understanding of mutual goals. This role helped streamline communication, align objectives, and monitor the progress of agreed-upon solutions. Establishing this direct line of communication and regularly scheduled check-ins proved instrumental in turning potential conflicts into collaborative opportunities, enhancing both productivity and team morale.

Elmo Taddeo
Elmo TaddeoCEO, Parachute

Follow Established Conflict Resolution Protocols

When conflicts arise between departments, it is crucial to have a pre-established conflict resolution protocol that both teams are trained in and committed to following. This approach allows for a structured and systematic process, minimizing personal biases and focusing on the logical assessment of the situation. Collaboration is encouraged, with both departments working together toward a mutually acceptable solution.

The emphasis is on communication and negotiation, ensuring a respectful and professional environment. Discuss your department's issues transparently and make an effort to understand the other side by engaging in the conflict resolution protocol today.

Implement Mandatory Mediation Sessions

To address inter-departmental conflicts, implementing mandatory mediation sessions can be an effective measure. These sessions, led by a skilled mediator, provide a safe space for departments to express their concerns and explore solutions collectively. The process aims to foster mutual understanding and actively involves each party in the resolution.

By focusing on the common ground and shared goals, departments can often find a path forward that benefits the entire organization. Reach out and schedule a mediation session to begin the journey towards resolution and collaboration.

Empower Through Rotating Leadership

A rotating leadership strategy can offer a fresh approach to managing departmental conflicts by bringing new perspectives to recurring issues. With this system, departments gain insight into each other's challenges and are empowered to contribute to the problem-solving process. By taking turns at the helm, leaders can build empathy and improve inter-departmental relations.

The rotation fosters a sense of shared responsibility and encourages collaborative efforts toward organizational goals. Take the initiative to learn more about how rotating leadership could improve dynamics within your company.

Engage a Neutral Third-Party Ombudsman

Enlisting the services of a neutral third-party ombudsman can be extremely effective for mediating between conflicted departments. This individual serves as an impartial facilitator, working to understand the root causes of the conflict and guiding the parties to a fair resolution. The ombudsman helps maintain a level of professionalism and objectivity that can be challenging to achieve from within.

Their external perspective can often shed new light on entrenched issues, paving the way for innovative solutions. Contact a reliable third-party ombudsman service to help navigate and resolve departmental disputes.

Enforce Unified Company Objectives

To unite conflicted departments, enforcing a company-wide system that emphasizes unified objectives is vital. This strategy aligns departments around common goals and reduces the friction caused by conflicting agendas. Departments are thereby incentivized to cooperate, since their success is interconnected with the organization's overarching achievements.

This approach streamlines decision-making and fosters a team-oriented culture. Embark on defining your organization's unified objectives to mitigate departmental conflicts and drive collective success.

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