How to make connections and improve interactions between teams
The practice of connecting enables you to create a neutral zone where people can interact as unique individuals rather than members of distinct groups. As a boundary spanning leader, you can use a number of different connecting tactics to link people to build trust:
Meet in a Neutral Zone. To suspend boundaries between groups, you need to take into account the physical environment. I use the concept of the neutral zone to represent a location, environment or space that is welcoming to groups on all sides of a divide.
Create Attractor Spaces. Organizations are full of physical boundaries separating groups, functions, levels and divisions. In most office buildings, floors divide employees by level, walls separate people by function, corridors serve to “funnel” groups into their designated locations and complex security procedures keep unwanted people out. Of course, physical boundaries in the work environment serve a worthwhile purpose in placing groups of people with similar work responsibilities in close proximity. Yet they often get in the way of groups that need to be collaborating. To balance these inevitable tensions, you need to create “attractor” spaces that encourage serendipitous cross- boundary relationships to develop.
Utilize Communication Technologies to Link People Together. In the span of a few short years, company intranet sites and virtual collaboration technologies have gone from being the exception to being the norm. Similarly, networking environments, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, have exploded on the scene. By themselves, these technologies may serve only to create borders as like-minded groups create their own virtual worlds. You can counteract this tendency and use the same technologies to suspend boundaries and create new connections instead of fortifying borders.
Build Leadership Networks. Both formal and informal events that take place during work hours are one of the easiest yet least effectively utilized tactics to link people and bridge divided groups proactively.
Mix It Up Outside the Office. Last but not least, building relationships outside the office is another timeless approach. The formality of established work protocols, status hierarchies and process routines can be left behind, allowing more informal relationships to develop. As in the tactic immediately above, your role is to serve as the connector.