This article was written by guest contributor Chelsea Lamb.
Boosting Interdepartmental Communication and Collaboration
For larger companies with many departments, achieving interdepartmental communication and collaboration (C & C) can be an uphill battle. Departments frequently have their own individual work processes, hierarchies, and goals. They don’t always see eye to eye on objectives or play well with each other. In the worst cases, they outright butt heads over goals or fight over resources. Needless to say, this isn’t good for the company’s culture, morale, productivity, or long-term growth.
Below, MegaMeeting covers interdepartmental C & C in detail, including offering suggestions on how your company could effectively boost C & C:
Why interdepartmental C & C is so hard to pull off
C & C has some common failure points. Understanding them is key to overcoming them:
- Silos: Departments have separate functions and work processes, which don’t always align or offer opportunities for collaboration. Indeed explains silos in detail here.
- Us vs. them: Office politics, rivalries, and tribalism often cause an “us vs. them” attitude between departments.
- Individualism: Many companies prioritize and reward individual performance over team or departmental performance.
- Physical distance: Often, departments are located in different offices, floors, buildings, and sometimes even countries. Members don’t always have opportunities to bump into each other, let alone collaborate.
- Lack of C & C structures: Finally, companies don’t have a culture of C & C. They also don’t provide C & C protocols like a communications framework between departments or shared objectives.
Practical ways to improve C & C
After identifying C & C failure points in your organization, you can come up with strategies to boost it. Here are some proven examples that work:
1. Hold video conferencing meetings and webinars
Having frequent interdepartmental meetings and webinars is a great way to break the ice between everyone, promote collaboration, share knowledge, transfer skills, and remind everyone that they’re a part of the same team. If you use video conferencing, you can have people attending regardless of physical distance. MegaMeeting offers secure video conferencing that’s completely browser-based. Included with each online meeting account are useful features like file sharing, SMS, communication, and breakout rooms that enhance communication and collaboration.
2. Create a culture of open communication
Open, transparent, and honest communication between departments can promote a sense of unity and encourage collaboration. Open communication starts with company leaders – they have to take the initiative and model it for their staff. Some suggestions to achieve open communication are maintaining an optimistic attitude, encouraging instead of discouraging, instilling the belief that success is possible, and being demanding without being demanding.
3. Have a document management system
Having a company-wide, shared document repository management system can encourage and facilitate information sharing between departments. You can convert files to PDF to easily share files with staff – they’re the preferred format over MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, not to mention more secure. You can use an online tool to convert any format to PDF by simply dragging and dropping files into the tool. Utilize this tool to convert to a PDF file.
4. Use intelligent automation apps
Intelligent automation apps can automate your communication processes and workflows for optimal efficiency and productivity. This technology combines advanced process automation, data integration, and business intelligence to streamline organizational operations, reduce costs, and improve business outcomes. With savvy use of automation apps, you can reduce employee workload and create extra time and opportunities for collaboration.
5. Have joint exercises and goals – like preparing reports for stakeholders
Having frequent collective exercises and goals to achieve can get your departments comfortable with working together. A good example is the periodic report you likely prepare for investors and other stakeholders. You can get departments to discuss the report, strategize together, and get everyone to collectively create it. You can use video conferencing, document management, and other tools to facilitate collective goals.
Why C & C matters so much
Great C & C has several research-proven benefits. Bad C & C is the single biggest cause of project failure, according to employees, and can cause huge turnovers. We’ll sum up the critical benefits of C & C here:
- Productivity: Departments that collaborate on tasks are much more effective at completing them.
- Morale: A company that prioritizes C & C is seen as a healthy, welcoming place. It makes employees happier and less likely to leave.
- Skill and resource sharing: C & C promotes the sharing of skills and other resources between members. It can lead to a more productive workforce.
- CX: Departments with good C & C can offer a more seamless journey for customers, leading to a better experience for them.
Achieving and maintaining interdepartmental C & C won’t be easy. You’ll have to analyze common failure points – including any unique ones present in your company – and troubleshoot them. You can create a C & C plan, and use strategies and tools like video conferencing to implement it. With enough time and effort, you can expect a healthier culture, improved productivity, reduced turnovers, and happier customers.