Can you honestly say that all your departments work cohesively together?
Or, like most businesses, do they only interact when they absolutely have to?
The advantage of collaboration between different departments runs so much deeper than purely improving colleague relations. In fact, if you can manage to get each one of your departments working in harmony together, you can enjoy enhanced productivity, more efficient processes, increased creativity and a happier workforce.
So, now you know why you need to improve collaboration within your company, the next step is to find out how you are going to do it.
Within the below blog post, you will discover everything you need to know about assisting communication and improving relationships between different departments.
What are the key challenges businesses face with departmental collaboration?
If you are struggling to get your different departments to work well together, there are several reasons why this may be the case:
- Personal conflict. Even a disagreement between just two employees from different departments can have a rippling effect across the whole company.
- Poor information sharing. If messages, announcements and other key company information are not shared properly, this can have a negative effect on your overall productivity.
- Physical separation. If one department works in the office and another works predominantly remotely, this can make collaboration more challenging.
- Industry stereotypes. IT workers are all geeks. Salespeople are all flashy. Accountants are dull. Most people are familiar with the stereotypes associated with different departments and this can make effective communication difficult.
How to improve collaboration in six simple steps
Demonstrate interactive behaviors
As a business owner or manager, it is your responsibility to lead by example, so if you want your departments to work well together, you need to show them how to do it.
Make sure that you invest both time and effort in building relationships with all of your teams and clearly demonstrate the importance of this to your employees.
Collaborative practices you may want to try include:
- Organizing open discussions at a local café or restaurant
- Arranging company sporting events
- Offering regular team building activities
Standardize communication procedures
It is one thing to encourage effective communication, but you also need to provide your employees with the means to interact with each other. Although email does have its place in an office environment, it is not the best medium for facilitating communication across multiple departments.
Instead, why not adopt an employee intranet system that will allow you and your employees to communicate and share information with ease?
Providing a central location where everyone within your company can have their voice heard, intranet software, such as the best-selling package from Simpplr, can be personalized to suit your company’s specific needs and can even allow you to stay connected to your mobile and remote workforce.
Other benefits of intranet software include:
- Enhanced employee engagement
- More efficient time management
- Ideal for remote workforces
- Centralized hub for data and information
Offer the right training
Although you may be providing your employees with the training they need to carry out their roles effectively, are you offering training that is specifically conducive to collaboration?
For example, how to work effectively as a team or how to successfully network? You can even find training courses that are designed to improve your employees’ emotional intelligence which can prove invaluable when trying to improve relations between different departments.
In a nutshell, make sure that you focus on developing not only your employees’ hard skillset but also their soft skills which are crucial for creating a harmonious and unified company.
Other soft skills-based training you may want to consider include:
- Customer service
- Public speaking
- Time management
Initiate joint projects
Once your employees have been versed in the importance of collaboration between departments, now is the time for you to start initiating more projects that involve cross-functional coordination.
Not only will this allow each department to see how another one works firsthand, but it will also require them to work on both their communication and team problem solving skills.
Create compassion in the workplace
Although you can’t make someone sympathetic, you can provide avenues to help coworkers get to know one another better which in turn creates personal understanding.
You can also improve your leadership by showing a genuine interest in your employees and the challenges that they face.
If you want to become an compassionate leader, you should focus on:
- Being more approachable
- Actively listening to your employees
- Involving everyone in discussions about project progress
- Being flexible
- Motivating and empowering your team
Set up recognition programs
When you start to see different departments working well together, you need to make sure that you implement a rewards and recognition program. This does not have to be a monetary incentive, although bonuses are always well received, but can be as simple as a group mention on the employee intranet showcasing their achievements.
If you do set up a rewards program, make sure that this is integrated into your workplace policies so that you remain consistent in your efforts to recognize and reward hard work.
If you are not sure what type of rewards to offer other than cold hard cash, here are a few ideas:
- Workplace perks
- Dinner with the boss
- The best parking spots
- Free lunch for the team
- Tickets to sporting events or festivals
- Spa day
- An afternoon off
Seamless collaboration between all the different departments within your organization will not happen overnight. That being said, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put in the time and effort to make your employees work cohesively together.
If you are feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of uniting your entire office, why not start with two departments that already get on fairly well and work your way up to the most challenging teams. As you work out what works for your company and what doesn’t, you will grow in confidence and be more than ready to get even sales and IT on the same page!