10 Practical Ways to Encourage Collaboration Between Departments
Even living in the world of constantly increasing and developing communication channels, we still have some areas that require communication optimization and improvements.
Yes, it means that we still don’t communicate enough. There are many cases nowadays when many employees believe that people in their own company do not collaborate enough. Cross-departmental communication is hard, and in some companies, this is a near-impossible task.
The ability to collaborate and solve different problems together distinguishes successful companies. Their teams inspire one another and share knowledge daily. It is important for managers and executives to create a culture in which communication, transparency, and collaboration thrive.
In this post, we will cover the problems of communication between various departments within a company and will propose some relevant tips on how to improve communication with the help of special approaches and tools.
First, let’s see what are the key factors that affect bad internal communication inside a company.
Key Problems That Cause Weak Cross-Departmental Communication
- Personal conflicts. Even if the conflict or disagreement involves only two people, their disputes may negatively influence important processes within the whole company.
- Broken information flow. People can be always busy in their workplaces and a lot of information may slip around and does not get shared internally. This negatively affects productivity for sure.
- Physical separation of departments. Remote work should not be a border for effective communication. Luckily, today there are many technical solutions, approaches, and management tools for distributed work, that are able to blur the line of difference with ordinary office work.
- Anthropological factor. It means that people tend to identify themselves with the group where they belong. When an individual focuses only on his/her department (as on a tribe), they can not collaborate effectively with others.
- Industry stereotypes. People are used to thinking that software developers are those geeky, shy guys who notice nothing around but their code. Another stereotype relates to designers – they always behave as hipsters. These stereotypical cases are making communication between departments quite difficult.
Now, let’s consider some effective ways to foster cross-departmental communication and avoid the problems described above.
10 Tips to Encourage Collaboration Across Departments
1. Keep everyone on the same page
For managers, it is crucial to explain the roles everyone needs to play to reach the common goal and speak in terms everyone can understand. Nobody can follow the same mission in case they call it something different.
Creating a shared language for all teams is a challenge, however, it is worth it. Everyone should understand the importance of the mission and how they play into it.
2. Encourage open communication
Weak communication among teams is one of the things that continues to slow down business processes. Unfortunately, not everybody understands that professional communication is one of the world’s easiest ways to boost transparency, compassion, and appreciation.
In order to succeed in today’s marketplace, you need to promote a culture of open communication, sharing the timelines and work goals associated with all the departments your company has. Otherwise, you will never experience true collaboration.
3. Accelerate empathy
Mutual understanding between different departments will make collaboration more effective and smoothly. As a manager, you can easily encourage team members to see the challenges of other departments from a different perspective.
It will be useful to cultivate a sense of curiosity to assist people to learn about each other’s work. Try to accelerate a culture of mindfulness where all team players keep their personal emotions.
4. Be always involved in the processes of other departments
Scenarios, when departments work separately, can infuriate and demoralize individual team members and affect the budget and timelines of the entire project.
You may avoid unnecessary frustrations involving team members from different departments in the other departments’ processes. It will ensure that the solution proposed by one team is in alignment with the overall strategic vision. As a project manager, you may easily foster such collaboration by scheduling formal team check-ins and reviews as well as encouraging informal base among team members.
5. Encourage trust
Any long-term collaboration is based on transparency and trust. Trust is the foundation of a successful team, while transparency is a crucial part of building this trust among team players.
Trust involves many aspects. For example, the trust of ethics, trust of integrity, or trust of competency. The more you foster trust in different areas, the more likely you’ll be able to create trusting relationships between departments and teams.
6. Show an example
Collaboration tone set between department heads can significantly influence how well individuals collaborate. That is why it’s rather important to create a culture of collaboration within the leadership team. Project managers should care about shaping a collaborative culture and building relationships with other managers from other departments by setting their own example.
You can initiate special meetings with your counterparts to observe their progress and challenges. It will foster a sense of collective responsibility for the whole company’s success.
7. Ensure psychological safety
In many companies, a strong degree of psychological safety is a must-have thing. The members of one department may assume a position of absolute authority on a specific topic. However, without control, that authority can become a weakness. The point of view of a non-expert can often provide some priceless insights.
Individuals who are willing to collaborate are free to find innovative solutions to challenging problems but only when there are no awkward questions to ask or ideas to share.
8. Provide an informal venue
It is the wrong way when your team members only communicate and collaborate formally during meetings or special projects. There is no need to break all the interior walls in your office and put everyone in an open space.
However, it is important to organize a special physical space to let people communicate with one another in an informal environment. The aim of this place is to encourage spontaneous conversations that can often result from those impromptu meetings.
9. Care of feedback
You should be responsible for the creation of an environment where team members will feel comfortable speaking up to share their opinions. Encouraging feedback will help to empower individuals and contribute to improving processes and collaboration.
The culture of providing constructive feedback should be framed in a way that focuses on the circumstances and not directed personally at a person.
10. Learn how to celebrate wins
Celebrating wins helps to accelerate trust and respect among team members from different departments. The same goes for acknowledging each other’s roles in the success of a project.
After the completion of a big project, it is high time to celebrate. Make it a habit to celebrate small wins as well. Even a small win helps to sustain momentum and motivation while breaking down barriers.
You may simply sponsor a company happy hour or catered lunch. These activities will give team members the opportunity to intermingle and improve cross-departmental communication.
There is no perfect way to create a 100% successful collaboration across departments. Hiring more experts will not do it, as well as providing open office workspace.
Even the most reliable and powerful collaboration app will not make team collaboration successful if you will face a lack of commitment, culture, and work.
Effective collaboration requires efforts and sometimes changes at the leadership level. However, you can be sure that the work involved in making those changes will produce positive transformative results.