Coalition building: Seven benefits of internal networking for nurturing relationships

Webster’s dictionary defines “coalition as an alliance, often temporary, of persons, parties, or states usually for a specific purpose.

So, why do I use coalition building for commonly referring to internal networking?

The quick answer is I needed something more dramatic that also implied nurturing relationships. In many coaching discussions with clients working in multinationals, it is important for clients, recently promoted to say a Director level, to understand two things: 1. As a new director, their job is no longer to “do the work” but rather “remove obstacles for their direct reports to get the job done” and  2. Management of stakeholders becomes more and more pervasive and essential.

So, how do we nurture relationships internally, especially when upper management might be in another country with a 10-hour time difference?

The first step is to identify and discuss the “target” and start building a relationship with them. Then we get into planning mode.

Before I highlight an interesting story about how a “tag cloud” helped my client build a coalition, let’s look at seven merits and benefits of internal networking to nurture relationships within an organization. (*)

1. Knowledge sharing and skill enhancement: Internal networking or coalition building enables employees from diverse departments to interact and share insights. This can lead to cross-functional learning, where individuals gain a deeper understanding of different aspects of the organization and enhance their skills.

2. Collaboration and teamwork: Effective networking within an organization breaks down silos and fosters collaboration. When employees know each other’s strengths and capabilities, they can form project teams that are well-balanced and synergistic. This enhances teamwork, as individuals are more likely to communicate openly, contribute ideas, and work harmoniously toward common goals.

3. Career development and mentoring: Coalition building provides opportunities for mentorship and career development. Seasoned employees can guide newer ones, offering insights into career paths, skills development, and navigation of the organizational landscape. This mentorship fosters a sense of belonging and accelerates career growth.

4. Innovation and idea generation: Interactions through coalition building platforms stimulate creative thinking and ideas generation. By exposing employees to diverse perspectives, networking inspires innovative solutions to challenges. Fresh ideas emerge from discussions that might not have happened without these connections.

5. Enhanced communication: Coalition building breaks down communication barriers, enabling employees to stay informed about company news, updates, and initiatives. Transparent communication enhances trust among team members and management, aligning everyone toward a common vision.

6. Employee engagement and retention: Nurturing relationships through coalition building boosts employee engagement. When individuals feel connected to their colleagues and larger organization, they are more likely to be motivated and satisfied in their roles. This, in turn, increases retention rates, as employees perceive their workplace as a supportive and rewarding environment.

7. Organizational culture and values: Coalition building within an organization reinforces its culture and values. When employees interact and collaborate across hierarchies, they develop a shared understanding of the company’s ethos. This unity strengthens the organization’s identity and promotes a sense of pride among its members.

In conclusion, like community building, which has become more and more pervasive these days, coalition building has evolved into an indispensable tool for nurturing relationships within an organization.

The story:

Bogdan, one of my good friends recently got promoted to Director level and with a new re-org,  he was now reporting to a different boss. My immediate reaction was to suggest him to get to know the new boss. Turns out Bogdan was way ahead of me because of our previous coalition building discussions. He’d prepared a tag cloud about the new boss’s technical abilities. Now before I could ask him what he meant by a tag cloud, he showed it to me.

Bogdan is quite adept at writing code that aggregates data, thereby creating a tag cloud which in itself is quite impressive. So, he went on LinkedIn and looked at the endorsements that this new boss had received and created a tag cloud. I can’t show you the tag cloud, but I can show you what Bogdan has done for me with regard to my tag cloud in coaching,  using the same methodology:

coach team

What’s my point? Before you engage in a discussion with your targeted stakeholder, coalition building stipulates that you must build your knowledge about this new person; in this case, the new boss. The more you know about this person the easier it will be to engage in a hallway discussion when you least expect it. The tag cloud shows you what this person is skilled in. In a picture …you get “the big picture about their skills.”

This is the short version of coalition building.  I would be happy to explain to you how it’s done in more detail. It’s nothing too complex but it does require an investment of time, people skills, and a bit of creative thinking.

Coalition building is one of your most important skills as you climb the ladder in your career. Why not be proactive and use it in your favor?

*With a little bit of help from ChatGPT – my first time in fact!

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