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How do I improve communication between different IT teams

By vincent_mcguire ·
I have a dilema at the moment in trying to improve communication bewteen site IT people and regional engineers that support them. In my current role I am part of a technology team that is responsible for the support/direction of IT within numerouse sites in Europe. On a bi-weekly basis we, the regional team, have setup a 1hr con call to improve communications with site IT staff so that we can work closely together on projects and help solution problems they may have. The dilema I have is that hardly anybody from the site IT staff attend these calls. In order to overcome any cultural/language problems we decided to start 1-1 calls instead of the open bi-weekly's we had with all sites at the same time. Each week a site engineer personally receives a call from a regional engineer and is asked some questions from a predefined template that we use to document issues. In some cases this has helped build relationships but in other cases the same people that did not attend the bi-weekly calls do not participate in the 1-1 calls. Do you guys/gals have any ideas on how I can improve communication from site to region, while minimising the 1-1 calls as this takes up a lot of time when you have 17 sites to support. Keep in mind the communication is a 2 way street and both parties have to actively participate in order to be effective.

Thanks

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Customers - #$%%##^$%

by d.schlotzhauer In reply to How do I improve communic ...

Sounds like there aren't many incentives for the IT guys/gals to attend the con calls - or for that matter, the 1-1 calls. They will need to see the value in the relationship and what your engineers bring to the table. If you see the site IT guys/gals as your "customer" what are you doing to probe, discover the low hanging fruit and addressing issues of greatest needs for the site folks first?

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How do I improve communication between different IT teams

by hotindia In reply to How do I improve communic ...

I was also facing the same problem. Didn't get the right direction, but some how improved by concentrating with different departments people.
I love to hear from other experts..it will be really helpfull for lots of people.

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Communicate!

by dwidlak In reply to How do I improve communic ...

Try addign video (or web cams) to the calls. When a face can be added to the voice, it changes the quality of the calls. At a previous assignment, we used web cams so the players could "see" who the other team members are. Once the faces were identified, the calls became friendlier and more productive (you really don't want to see disappointment on another team members face).

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Find a common goal between sites - it works!

by GoingMobile In reply to How do I improve communic ...

You may never know why the other side isn't participating. It could be that they are uncooperative (unlikely), that their day-to-day priorities are more urgent, or that there are numerous other departments trying to get them on conference calls too. I'm sure we all make decisions each day about which meetings to attend and which ones not to so we can get our work done and go home.

Instead of forcing the issue, look for a common goal or a problem you can help with and get one person from each site on it to solve it. You may be rebuffed at first, but keep the door open. There is nothing better to build a team than solving a problem or crisis together. Even so, it is unlikely that you will get all 17 sites to play along, and there is nothing that says your team is necessary for all the other sites. Over time, you should find the sites that work well with your team and vice versa will be more productive because they will only take each other's time to solve real problems; not just to attend conference calls.

I also agree with many of the other suggestions in this thread; especially about adding some of the human touches. This is particularly important for cross-cultural interaction. I've worked with virtual and geographically separated teams for many years and it takes work (like all team building) but it can be done.

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You need to engage your site staff

by nduncan In reply to How do I improve communic ...

Your problem is a tough one, Vincent, and coming from a team with 110 IT staff dotted all around the world, I understand your frustration. I'm assuming you don't have the luxury of a Communications Manager (which is my position here), but I can share some of the tactics we have used to improve communications. First, be clear about what you are trying to achieve. "Improving communications" is a vague goal and you will find it hard to measure any success if you don't have specific aims. Rather than tackling the whole issue at once, why not focus on one issue, start small, and try to find ways to engage the parties concerned. Start with things that have an effect on these site staff, things that concern them. If you drive things from that angle, they are more likely to come to meetings of their own accord, rather than feeling they are being imposed upon by office staff. And that leads me to the most crucial point. Quite a few of the replies I read here suggested coming down heavy on these people and making them attend meetings. Hmmm, that'll work - not! You have to understand the mentality of staff working remotely to the main IT hubs. Decisions are traditionally made at head office, or at main hubs, and site staff are often on the front line. The natural state of the relationship is that site staff are distrustful of office staff and feel that they foist their decisions on site staff without proper consideration for what really happens out there at the coal face. Whether it's a reality or not, I'll guarantee you that your site staff feel this way. So forcing the issue of meetings etc will push them further away and allow them to be proved right that office staff don't care about them!
I could spend all day on this topic because it has taken me 3 years to make major changes, so you will have to be patient. Here's something to get you started: try to think of some project or work coming up that could incorporate some input from your site staff, perhaps just one of them even. Get them involved on a concrete level by asking for their opinion, technical input, what fix would they suggest (what tech doesn't love to be asked how to come up with a technical solution), if you want to go further, ask them to act as a rep for all the other site staff, so they are talking amongst themselves and the message starts filtering round that they are being involved in decision making.
In general, try not to think about communication as a problem to be fixed. Engage your staff in the work that you all do as a team and you won't have a problem to fix!

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Improving communication

by 4ITMgrs In reply to How do I improve communic ...

Vincent,
My first question to you would be, have you identified why the European staff does not want to participate in the conversations. Obviously there is a reason they don't want to attend. Often people feel that they are not gaining anything from attending these meetings. Have them draw up an agenda for the meeting to touchpoint on issues they consider most relevant to their situation and then point out small improvements each week to show you are making progress.

I have a similar situation since I am responsible for setting up global strategy within my organization. The European staff would prefer to manage all of Europe, but wants to complain when issues are not addressed or resolved from the US. So far, we have a stalemate. We have meetings every other week to discuss open incidents and to keep the European community informed of corporate office issues. This basically becomes a sounding board meeting for Europe to vent frustration and request items they want. It is a moving target, but over time I am sure we will make headway.

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Why Have The Meetings?

by Wayne M. In reply to How do I improve communic ...

I hate to sound brusque, but what precisely is the intent behind the meetings?

One of the strategies for effective meetings is to establish an agenda. This agenda needs to be something more than "to improve communications." What specifically are the problems being seen at the regional office that require bi-weekly discussions with all site offices? Are there more efficient ways to exchange this information, such as written status reports, e-mails, discussion lists, or web blogs? Remember, a meeting affects the scheduling on one's entire day.

I am not surprised that meetings intending to improve communication have a low attendance rate. Try to create a purpose for the meeting that has a tangible benefit and people will then have a reason to make the effort to attend. If the purpose of the meeting cannot be identified, then perhpas the best course of action is to discontinue the meetings.

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