How to Improve Interdepartmental Communication

While there are many factors that determine an organization’s success, one that is too often overlooked is interdepartmental communication. Clear, open communication between departments is essential for your company’s continued growth.

 

Weak interdepartmental communication can greatly limit a company’s progress. As an HR manager, you have the power to help your organization achieve greatness through cultivating a culture of strong interdepartmental communication. To do so, you need a strategy to determine how different teams can best communicate with each other.

 

Even if your company has yet to experience interdepartmental communication issues, you should still put strategies into place. It’s difficult to hit the reset button on a dysfunctional team. Instead, work to foster good communication from the get-go through interdepartmental collaboration and ethical communication best practices.Team members working remotely isn’t an excuse for weak communication between departments. Thanks to a variety of tools and technology, good interdepartmental communication knows no distance.

Ideas for Interdepartmental Collaboration

As an HR manager, you have a lot of say when it comes to facilitating and encouraging better communication. With the goal of bringing together cohesive, aligned teams, you must decide which ideas for interdepartmental collaboration fit best with your organization’s needs and the personalities of its team members. At the core of every suggestion concerning how to improve communication between teams is the understanding that building collaboration means building trust. You are looking for ways to foster genuine relationships between team members in which mutual respect is a given.

 

An easy place to start communicating is by putting together a regularly issued newsletter. When shared throughout the organization, a thoughtfully written newsletter is a great way to ensure all team members are aware of the overall goals of the business and what each department is doing to work toward those goals. 

 

Of course, face to face interaction is equally, if not more, important to improving interdepartmental communication. While open house meetings and lunch and learn events can improve communication, informal environments are often better suited to encouraging authentic relationships between employees from different departments.

 

Volunteering has a myriad of team-building benefits. When departments work together, it instills a sense of camaraderie in a more natural way. Volunteering is an opportunity for employees to connect outside of the office. It gives team members a chance to get to know one another without the pretense of their typical roles. 

 

Furthermore, volunteering is a chance to collaborate on something unrelated to work. It can be the change of scenery necessary for a more well-rounded understanding of how someone completes tasks. Think of it as stepping back to see the bigger picture. Volunteering gives team members a chance to get to know each other’s personalities.

 

When you know someone’s personality, you’re more likely to appropriately interpret their behavior and less likely to assume malicious intent. Other ideas for interdepartmental collaboration on this deeper level include interdepartmental lunches and job-shadowing opportunities. 

 

Ethical communication best practices

As you move to organize interdepartmental collaboration opportunities for your organization, it’s important to keep ethical communication best practices in mind. Rather than assuming everyone is familiar with the best practices, it’s a good idea to provide a refresher lesson. Ethical communication is founded upon a culture of respect and trust. Neither you nor your team members should take that as meaning there will never be conflict. 

 

Rather, when there’s a company culture of respect and trust, team members refrain from personal attacks in favor of constructive communication. Misunderstandings are inevitable, but when everyone is committed to ethical communication best practices, uncomfortable conversations won’t lead to a breakdown in communication.

 

So much more than just “working together,” best practices and collaboration skills allow team members across departments to engage with one another in an efficient manner for maximum productivity. Top companies like Apple know teamwork is key. To tap into maximum productivity and to communicate effectively, it’s critical to make known the exact roles and responsibilities of each team member.

 

Once everyone’s roles and responsibilities are established, all team members should understand the organization’s big goals and how each team fits into achieving them. If employees are going to prioritize the group goals ahead of their own personal satisfaction, they need to see how collaboration benefits everyone.

 

Other ethical communication best practices include being aware of both verbal and nonverbal cues. For example, if one department frequently ignores emails and memos from another department, there’s likely going to be an issue. When situations do arise, it’s imperative to speak directly to the issue at hand and be willing to apologize. Forgiveness is equally important since maintaining a grudge can derail future collaboration.

Tools for facilitating better communication

Whether hashing out a misunderstanding or collaborating on a project, technology and tools can help facilitate better communication between departments and streamline staff management. Such technology is especially useful when team members are working remotely. By utilizing shared boards, folders and apps, team members can quickly access each other’s work and more easily share ideas. As HR manager, you should organize training for any collaboration tools your organization decides to utilize so that everyone knows how to access them and is on the same page.

 

When some or all team members are working remotely, digital communication channels such as instant messaging and video conference tools are essential. In a pinch, you can even send a fax from your phone. For your digital communication needs, check out these tools:

 

  • Asana: A mobile app that allows team to track and manage their work
  • Slack: A “collaboration hub” that allows team members to chat as a group or one-to-one 
  • Zoom: An easy to use platform for video and audio conferencing
  • Google Drive: A cloud-based file storage which gives team members the option to grant access of files to one another

While these tools can help facilitate better communication, it’s important to remember the key to improving interdepartmental communication is an environment of trust and respect which you,as an HR manager, have the power to cultivate. From making your recruiting process more collaborative to enhancing company morale, strong interdepartmental communication is vital for growth and success.