There is a technical department in my organisation that seems to be falling apart at the seams. They service my department internally, and we in turn service the company's external customers. However, the tech group fails to deliver on projects and on change request that enable my team to progress, become more productive and deliver better service externally.

The technical group has high turnover, low morale, and their management doesn't seem able to tackle the big systemic issues that appear to be causing the delivery problems.

I have no direct responsibility for this team, yet I yearn for improvement as their work is crucial to my department being able to move forward and become more effective - through them delivering better tools, systems etc.

I have told my direct boss about the situation, and he is aware, but he doesn't manage the group, so seems unable to influence the situation. Nothing has changed all year, and the situation is getting worse.

Is there anything I can do? Or can I only sit and watch Rome burn?

Jrlz's picture

You are in a difficult situation with having your performance dependent on another departments performance.  One approach that has worked for me in the past is to try and forge a collaborative relationship with the other department.  I would first start by meeting with your colleague in that department.  You need to understand what issues they are having and what goals you share.  Remember, with rare exception, people want to do a good job, but this department is having challenges.  Once you have identified common goals, you can then look for assets/resources that both of you have to help with the goal(s).  Do you have resources that you can share to help them?  The idea is to illustrate how the success of both of your departments is linked and how you can help each other out.  There will be issues that neither of you have the ability to change, you need to focus only on the ones you can change.

I would also try to get your directs to develop relationships with the directs from the other department.  Perhaps a group lunch, breakfast, happy hour, football pool etc...  It will take a few of these before the results start.  Soon though, the departments will be working together to achieve organizational success.  It has been my experience that once the internal non-customer facing department starts to see how their work helps or hurts the external customers they will raise their performance. 

Lastly, make sure you emphasize every little success.  When things go right, send e-mails to the other department.  I like to e-mail the individual employee and CC in their manager.  Once people see genuine appreciation from you and your department they will work very hard for you.  With any of the issues that continue to persist, and they will persist, deal with these very diplomatically.  Remember you catch more bees with hunny.