Imagine a situation where your firm is on a major initiative of developing a website for a high-end client. This project can only be delivered when teams from the web-development, content, designing, and digital marketing departments come together. Can you imagine creating this website without properly collaborating with the respective teams? Certainly not
Interdepartmental collaboration is undoubtedly an integral part of a successful work culture today. In fact, according to goremotely, approximately 75% of the employees regard collaboration and teamwork as an important part of the workplace.
However, amid the pressure of meeting deadlines, team members overlook the importance of communicating critical information. Moreover, some departments treat it as a race and compete with each other to reach the finish line.
Competition instead of collaboration can adversely impact the project’s course.
This article takes you through the importance of collaboration between departments and ways to improve it.
Let us first define the term interdepartmental collaboration,
1. Interdepartmental collaboration definition
When a group of people with varied functional expertise come together and work towards a common goal or project, it is known as interdepartmental collaboration. Note that, sometimes it can be members from different departments communicating to solve a complex challenge or problem.
So, why is a collaboration between departments important?
2. Why is interdepartmental collaboration important?
Healthy collaboration between departments is a sign of positive work culture. When the resources feel comfortable working together and are aware of their colleague’s roles and responsibilities, it is reflected in the customer experience.
Problem-solving becomes a breeze with effective collaboration between departments. One gets a different perspective on the same issue making it easy to deduce a solution. It also opens doors for new learning opportunities. When you communicate, you share knowledge and experience that will help others learn from you and vice versa.
In addition, it fosters trust and enhances morale in the organization, eventually building a positive environment. This empowers the team and makes everyone more efficient in their work. A Forbes study reveals that companies that promoted collaborative working were 5 times as likely to be high performing.
Overall, collaboration and effective communication lead to an engaged, more open, and connected workplace.
Owing to the above-mentioned benefits, managers should strive to improve and maintain cross-departmental collaboration. Here are some ways you can implement this practice:
3. How to improve collaboration between departments?
3.1 Provide executive support
Employees look up to their higher-ups in the organization to lead by example. When one sees that the top executives of the firm are investing time and efforts in building social relationships, it becomes the DNA of the company culture. Demonstrating a collaborative and interactive behavior is therefore important for executives to ensure it is followed throughout the firm.
Foster and model collaborative culture
Not just the executives, but also project managers play an important role in setting a tone for a collaborative atmosphere. If project managers initiate meetings with their counterparts to comprehend their progress and challenges, resources will follow through. It will foster a sense of co-operative responsibility amongst everyone and build a sense of trust.
Managers can develop their own signature practices to keep the collaboration interesting. For example, you can organize a joint discussion at a regular cafe or organize a sports match on weekends or more. Initiating and leading by example will help managers embed a sense of community amongst their workforce.
3.2 Define communication methods and channels
Encouraging effective communication between departments is only half the battle won. Standardizing communication procedures and helping everyone know when and how to communicate is the real task. Before the onset of the project, managers must define the communication channels and processes to be followed.
- Specifying when to use the synchronous or asynchronous mode of communication.
- The communication etiquette to be followed by the resources.
- Collaboration tools or apps to be equipped to allow the smooth exchange of information.
- Concerned authority to be addressed and reached out to in case of any pressing matter or escalation.
Convey the ultimate goal and vision with transparency
One of the most important responsibilities of a decision-maker is to convey the firm’s goals and objectives with the utmost transparency. If you expect your cross-functional team to work cohesively, you need to periodically educate them about the goals and vision. When your workforce is aware of how their work is adding value, they are more likely to take initiatives. This will gradually increase communication and engagement between different departments and maintain the flow of data.
3.3 Organize team-building activities
All work, no play is a recipe for low productivity and disengagement. If your team is only communicating formally during meetings or project discussions, then the human element is missing from the equation. To get this right, department managers can coordinate with each other and organize various team-building activities. This exercise is beneficial to understand everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and act accordingly. It is always healthy to have some fun at the workplace along with work.
Train the staff for the right skillset
You may encounter a situation where you have already established communicative company culture, but some team members still lack those habits that can help them coalesce. Managers can initiate training programs to fill these skill gaps and make a notable difference in team performance.
A classic example of the firm that initiated such programs is Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Their training modules include teamwork, Emotional Intelligence, and networking. They also train employees on how to communicate the firm’s strategy and build healthy partnerships.
Including such modules in your training program and honing your workforce’s soft skills will give you an added advantage.
3.4 Gain an enterprise-wide visibility
Effective collaboration can only happen when everyone in the team is on the same page, or else it may lead to unnecessary conflicts. To do so, managers can deploy a resource management tool that will provide them a bird’s eye view of the resources and projects.
With this, managers will be able to assign the right work to the right person and collaborate better. Moreover, resources will be aware of the project’s progress and will be able to work more efficiently.
Understand the interdependencies
Taking the previous example of website designing, it’s clear that every task, from website content to design, is interdependent. Employees must make an effort to understand these interdependencies. It will facilitate them to collaborate better with other members of the team.
For instance, if you are working on the content, you can collaborate better with the design team when you know how your work will affect theirs.
Initiate joint-projects between departments
The next step after understanding the interdependencies is to take up more projects that involve cross-functional coordination. More so even, when resources will be involved in other department’s processes, it will help them communicate better. They can then easily solve complex issues together.
3.5 Organize rewards and recognition program
Resources help you meet the project deadlines with all their might and capabilities. It is needless to say that their work and effort deserve acknowledgment. Project managers and executives can integrate rewards and recognition programs into their workplace policies to acknowledge the hard work. This step will encourage collaboration with the higher-ups along with fellow colleagues.
Share and exchange feedback
There is always room for improvement whether you are an executive or working at a junior level. To help your employees improve, project managers can connect with different department heads to hold project closure meetings. These meetings will help everyone share and exchange feedback. Decision-makers will know from employees if the process needs to be improved and employees will know the areas they need to work on.
This feedback exchange meeting will encourage interdepartmental collaboration and will provide everyone a fair chance to grow professionally.
These are some of the ways you can use to improve interdepartmental collaboration at your firm.
The late American business magnate Steve Jobs once said, ‘Great things in business are never done by one person.’ This adage holds true in every sense. One cannot accomplish projects and reach milestones without the help of others.
Collaboration is, therefore, a key to a business’s success.
The above-mentioned tips will help you improve and maintain effective collaboration between departments. It will help you enhance your profitability, and will also add glory to employees’ productivity and engagement.
What ways do you follow to encourage communication at your company?
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Anuradha Mansinghka & Aakash Gupta