In the organizations, effective and efficient cooperation is not possible without trust between business and IT teams.
Using an example, cats and dogs are typically not the best friends, and they don’t trust each other. Many believe that the same applies to the business and IT teams as well. However, this should not be the case.
What are the consequences of low trust between business and IT?
- The team-work is not efficient since the departments spend a significant portion of energy and time on protection against potential attacks from the other side.
- Creativity suffers due to the toxic atmosphere.
- Nobody wants to take a risk, as they are afraid of the other party taking advantage of it.
- The teams will not share information and knowledge, and it will block to find the best solutions.
- There will be no transparency; the colleagues will not understand the goals, reasons, and drivers.
- The motivation will decrease, and employee retention will become more challenging.
The list goes on. The organizations may pay a very high price if the trust level remains low. Many of us heard stories about multi-million-dollar abandoned projects, unnecessary spending, and sub-optimal solutions that the organization could’ve avoided maintaining high trust level and healthy working relationships.
Fortunately, you can rebuild the trust level. Here are a few ideas that may help you.
1. Leave your big ego outside of the office
Yes, this is the first and most important task to start with. If the relationship with your IT or business partners is hostile since a while, it may be challenging to step back. You may feel that the other side “won” and it is unfair. However, if you can make a small step, your partner will probably follow based on the principle of reciprocity. Afterward, you both can make the next, more significant steps.
2. Discuss common topics regularly in person, involving key team members
Organize regular reviews between the IT and Business teams. Possible agenda items are the strategy, demands, projects, operations and support, financials, and other actual topics. The desired frequency may vary between weeks and months, but it is crucial to have them regularly.
The involvement of the team members is essential to ensure efficient information sharing, and also to build trust between business and IT. We, humans, are wired to increase the trust if we meet regularly in person.
You can read more in this article, what to discuss during the Business-IT alignment meetings.
3. Take commitments, keep track and evaluate the results together
Whenever you agree on an action or delivery, register, and keep track it. Make this task list transparent and available for all involved team members. Review regularly the results and evaluate them together. Agree on improvement actions in case of delay and commit to new deadlines. Don’t forget to celebrate after successful deliveries.
If the teams deliver as promised, the trust will increase. If they miss a deadline but admit and analyze openly, the trust will grow.
4. Eliminate toxic connections, replace toxic people
Sometimes toxic relationships cause problems. Some colleagues may always argue with each other without added value, behave hostile and stuck in long unproductive debates.
First, give a chance, try to fix it. Explain that you want to help, and listen to both parties. Set a deadline to improve the situation. If it doesn’t help and they perform well; otherwise, a shift of tasks and changing the split of the work may solve the problems. However, it is possible that you have to let toxic people leave. It is not easy but may be necessary, and on the long run help not only the team but that person as well to find a place that is a better fit.
5. Walk the talk
Leaders play a vital role to build trust between business and IT departments since they are role models. Their colleagues watch them outside the meeting room, in the lunch break, next to the coffee machine or while walking in the forest as part of a team-building exercise. They want to check if the leader honestly believes in and committed to increasing the trust, or it is just a mandatory exercise. Always walk the talk. Do what you preach. It will dramatically increase the chances of success. Besides, you will gain respect from your colleagues.
I hope that these ideas help you to increase the trust between business and IT teams. Your organization will benefit from it. Moreover, new friendships can also be born.