Interdepartmental Communication

How many times have you thought to yourself, “Those people over in the ______ department don’t do anything!”? As satisfying as it is to gripe about the other people in your company, this is an unhealthy way to think of your co-workers (and it probably isn’t true anyway). It is also a symptom of poor interdepartmental communication.

Poor communication can cause problems for practical reasons, like losing customer information. It can also cause frustration between employees who don’t understand each other’s jobs, goals, or challenges. Here are some ways to help improve interdepartmental communication, so that employee cooperation can be at an all-time high.

Identify Communication Gaps

Ask stakeholders to identify their biggest complaints when it comes to interdepartmental communication. Survey employees from different departments, and compile a list of ways that communication gets lost in the shuffle. Additionally, look back through customer feedback that might indicate a breakdown in interdepartmental cooperation.

Most of the time, accuracy and timeliness are the biggest obstacles to good communication. Information either gets lost in translation, or takes too long to reach the appropriate people. Identify which of these issues pose the biggest challenge for your company, and use that knowledge to focus on fixing the problem. If information takes too long to reach the right people…

Invest in Communication Tools

E-mail drastically changed the interdepartmental cooperation. The days of printed memos that might get lost, spilled on, or left in the dust, are over. However, sometimes e-mail isn’t seamless enough when it comes to interdepartmental communication. After all, a memo can sit unread in an email inbox as easily as it can sit on a desk.

Consider investing in file sharing software or enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for your company. Watch out: these can be expensive initial investments. However, resources like these allow employees to maintain a network of live information that people in different departments can access at any time. Updates are instantaneous, and are available for anyone who needs to access them. More importantly, the system exists independently of a cluttered email inbox. Software systems like this can improve interdepartmental cooperation by speeding up communication. A system like this can also improve accuracy of communication, if set up properly. Speaking of…

Schedule interdepartmental meetings

If accuracy is a problem for your interdepartmental communication, scheduling regular meetings with stakeholders can be vital. Information is most frequently inaccurate because employees don’t know enough about each other’s workflows to explain things properly. At its worst, poor interdepartmental communication can cause inaccurate information to be conveyed to a customer or other business partner.

This is where interdepartmental meetings come into play. Schedule meetings with different stakeholders every 6 weeks or so. Encourage attendees to talk about problems they see in cooperation. Additionally, have attendees in each department give a short presentation about what their department is currently working on. Understanding each other’s challenges and goals increases communication and cooperation. It also helps everyone cut each other a little slack.

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IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Victor1558