Not too long ago, you had a small, cohesive team that was aligned on everything. Now, you have different departments with different agendas. Everything is a battle.
This is what success buys you. Congrats on your growth--obviously, you're doing something right to be expanding--but now you need to find a way to get through these painful growing pains.
First, it's important to realize that this friction you are experiencing is a natural state, albeit a new one. When you were just coding and building your product you probably didn't have many sales and marketing interruptions inquiring how to help differentiate your product or suggesting new features.
Now, things are different. Everyone is hired to do a job and everyone is necessary, but as a company gets larger, the jobs increasingly require help from others. Most of the time, you only start interfacing with another group when you require something from them. Unfortunately, it's seldom that teams reach out to say, "I know you are working on something huge, how can I help you?"
That can be a problem. Too often we are wholly unprepared for this next phase of business. But with a few shifts in behavior we can shift this scenario from something stressful to something that inspires seamless integration that drives growth.
Here are some suggestions on how to tackle cross-functional friction:
1. Get peer alignment on goals.
Everyone at the executive level should give input on each other's goals. This also includes knowing what trumps what and which goals matter most.
When I first joined eBay, I had the head of development focused on shipping fast and furiously and I had the head of Operations focused on availability. Needless to say, there was a lot of head-butting between the organizations and resolving it required me intervening to decide what goal was most important.
Eventually, I changed the goals of each team so that Ops shared the delivery goals and product development shared the availability goals. When I added customer support to my team we realized that we needed to add customer satisfaction to all the goals as well.
Everything works much more smoothly--and pleasantly--when everyone is working towards the same goals.
2. Implement decision-making guidelines.
What are the expectations for problem resolution? Who gets to make which decisions?
I'm a fan of the RACI model (who is Responsible, who needs to Approve, who needs to be Consulted and who needs to be Informed), but there are a number of methods you can use. What's most important is that you pick one and diligently stick to it.
3. Find ways to surface issues.
I ask everyone at my investment firm to submit things they need help on every week. In my one-on-ones, I ask how things are going and why.
Engage in broader communication. Whatever you've been doing regarding communication, it is very likely not enough. Communication must be constant and it must reach everyone.
4. Celebrate the wins and give validation across the whole company.
When you see cross-functional behavior, call it out and celebrate it. My customer support team at eBay gave out "silver star awards" to those people who went above and beyond to help other departments out.
As you continue to grow and be successful, you'll need to find new and innovative ways to keep addressing cross-functional friction. Companies that know how to mitigate this and realize that the enemy is not across the aisle end up with far more capability and success.
Not to mention, the people at those companies have a lot more fun.