Inter-departmental communication is all about different departments working together seamlessly to develop a service or a product that customers want. But a well-functioning team needs to have impeccable communication, respect, and vision.
Suppose we'd ask many team members how they are getting along with other departments. The answer would most likely "we do ok" or a shrug, implying that they aren't maximizing their team's results and productivity.
Collaboration among teams isn't only cooperating with other departments. It involves so many factors, but most importantly, the in-depth understanding of each other's roles. In the sections below, we will provide tips on boosting cross-department collaboration while ensuring a happier and healthier environment for your team members.
Inter-departmental collaboration is undoubtedly an integral part of any thriving work culture nowadays, but what does this term stand for? It means working with different business departments towards a mutual goal.
Before they even start working together, teams have to talk about changes in goods or services, new promotions, shared projects, or anything else that might affect multiple departments. This type of communication can be as simple as sharing a couple of emails or, more complex, in the form of meetings.
Therefore, when people with different functional expertise work together to develop a new project, they engage in interdepartmental collaboration. In some cases, members from other departments might be called to solve a problem or a complex challenge, which doesn't involve a new project.
It's important to note that interdepartmental collaboration creates healthy internal cultures and employees feel comfortable working together. They understand each other's roles and responsibilities within a system, which eventually positively affects customers, creating a higher level of satisfaction.
Facilitating inter-departmental collaboration
Focus on the main goal: when you're working with multiple departments, focus on the main objective to avoid confusion. You should understand that collaboration becomes much easier when you are working towards the same goal. The important thing is no longer what every department wants but what's the mission of the organization.
Go from the top: a culture of collaboration usually starts with the leadership team. If leaders aren't careful enough, or collaboration isn't managed well, it can lead to competition. Since groups of people try to develop an idea to solve the problem, it can soon turn into whose idea is better. That's why it's crucial to have departmental leaders step up and oversee the collaboration process.
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Whiteboard the process: if you want to understand how departments fit together and achieve the organization's mission, you need to know how each department contributes to this process. Several companies have suggested whiteboarding their processes, which means collecting departments and teams to understand their cross-department tasks.
Accept tech tools: while emails and conference meetings aren't the best way to exchange ideas, they can be helpful to some extent. It can significantly facilitate interdepartmental communications and improve collaboration if you adopt an ECM or enterprise content management system.
How to effectively communicate between departments
If you are looking for ways to improve communication between departments, we have a few suggestions that you might find beneficial.
Encourage interaction. You could make two departments interact once or twice a week, at a set time and location. Then create a Voxer, Slack, or whatever communication platform you can find to create a room where that department will stay synced up.
Organize weekly meetings. Weekly leadership meetings are an important part of this process because they enable team leaders to have time together in the same room. As your company scales, every department must work together and talk about issues and potential solutions that affect everyone within the organization.
Set up high-level goals. One of the best ways to encourage communication among departments is to set up high-level goals. If you create goals and tasks with fewer borders, team members are more likely to discuss the project from various perspectives rather than just their position and further engage with others, not only their department.
Appoint someone to act as a bridge. To encourage communication among departments that don't usually interact well, you could hire someone to act as a bridge or whose job is divided between two departments.
Why interdepartmental communication matters
It goes without saying that your organization will perform better when its teams communicate with each other. Effective interdepartmental communication keeps information flowing. So, instead of keeping information for themselves, the team shares it with others so everyone can do their best work.
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For instance, if your marketing department is starting a new promotion, it should notify the sales department. They should know about the promotion start and end dates to ensure that customers receive the deal they saw. On the other hand, if the sales team isn't familiar with details, you are more likely to end up with frustrated customers. The lack of communication leads to a conflict: teams will fight and blame each other for their inefficiency and mistakes.
Building collaboration across departments
Ensure that everyone is on the same page. Since everyone is working towards a mutual goal, explain their roles and create a shared language. It's significant that everyone understands the mission's importance, why their roles matter, and how they fit into it.
Focus on understanding and empathy. While you can't make someone empathic, you can ensure that your team members get to know one another on a more personal basis, which in return creates mutual understanding. Once you know the person, you are more likely to provide help and communicate when needed.
Provide an example. You would be surprised to know that many executives want their teammates to practice effective interdepartmental teamwork, open communication, and offer supportive feedback when they aren't willing to do so. That's why executives must lead by example and champion whatever change they want to administer within their organization.
Ensure open feedback. Is there anything better than a working environment where people are inspired, feel safe, and encouraged to express their opinion? Keep in mind that real motivation happens when team members feel safe trying new things and trusting others to have their back.
Promoting inter-departmental communication
The lack of inter-departmental communication is one of the significant issues companies need to deal with. Unfortunately, we even have organizations where teams communicate regularly, but mixed messages still occur. This doesn't happen only in big departments scattered across the world. Even in smaller settings and offices, information can become lost in translation. Therefore, if you want to promote interdepartmental communication and improve relationships, we have some advice for you:
- Hold regular meetings and communicate
- Keep everyone in the loop
- Link team goals and performance
- Use TV screens to share the latest updates across the department
- Establish a clear chain of command
- Perform platform audits
- Set goals that can be only accomplished by working together
- Engage in team-building activities