Cross-Departmental Collaboration isn't a Meaningless Buzzword

roberthalf.jpg

To some lawyers, "cross-departmental collaboration" sounds like one of those keywords resume writers tell you to include in your resume that sounds good but doesn't really mean anything.

The problem is "cross-departmental collaboration" does mean something. And, yes, if you can legitimately claim it as a skill or part of your experience, then you should have it in your resume. And if you don't yet have high quality experience in cross-functional or cross-divisional work, then you should get some! 

Why? Ability to work well with professionals and front-line employees outside the legal department is critical to both in-house and outside counsel's success. And the need for attorneys who can work well across these divisions is growing. Even so, many lawyers find it challenging to partner with non-lawyers.

Robert Half Finance & Accounting, the financial recruitment division of mega search and recruiting company Robert Half, recently conducted a survey of chief financial officers (CFOs), as described in "Finance Staff Struggle To Interact With Different Personalities In Other Departments : CFOs Reveal Top Hurdles to Cross-Departmental Collaboration ." Clearly, this survey was done with finance and accounting professionals in mind . However, I've spoken to thousands of lawyers (including general counsel  about career development and hiring corporate counsel, and the results apply well to attorneys too.

The CFOs ranked "learning to interact with a variety of personalities" as the "greatest challenge for accounting and finance professionals when working with coworkers in other departments ." 

RH_0712_GRAPH_Personalities

The survey identified four major reasons why the collaboration can be difficult:

  • The range of personalities
  • Stressful situations
  • Conflicting deadlines
  • Different vocabularies

Just like CFOs (and aspiring CFOs) , attorneys can develop individual strategies to overcome these difficulties -- and doing so it critical to both your individual success as a in-house or outside lawyer, but also to the success of the corporations you serve.