Improving Cross-Department Communication in Four Ways
There’s a new normal for companies with employees working from home, the office, or a hybrid of both. How’s communication faring? Is there a need for improving cross-department communication?
Sadly, only seven percent of U.S. workers believe that overall communication is excellent where they work. However, a strong level of communication is essential for the success of a business.
Let’s see how companies can enhance inter-department communication to boost productivity and elevate their brand. First, let’s dig deeper into the reasons communication is crucial.
Why Improving Cross-Department Communication Matters
Since happy customers build successful businesses, buyers need to perceive that they are interfacing with a company that runs like a well-oiled machine. However, a lack of cross-department cohesion trickles back to the customer. A significant pain point in the customer experience is repeating the same information to several people within an organization. A couple of situations can cause this particular experience:
- A customer calls for support and explains a problem to an agent. The agent forwards the call to another department without a verbal or written review of the problem.
- An organization’s development and marketing teams launch a new product, but support departments, like Help Desk, weren’t informed.
Another important reason for improving cross-department communication is employee morale and productivity. Lack of clear communication leads to project completion delays, disengagement at meetings, and “the silo effect.” The expression “silo effect” relates to teams that keep their information internally, causing confusion and limitations to other departments.
Four Ways to Improve Communication Between Departments
With the reasons for enhancing cross-department communication laid out, let’s explore how to achieve it. First, we’ll look at internal department communication. Then, we’ll go to the upper level of the organizational structure and work our way through to the individual.
(1) Set Your Own House in Order
Before you can improve communication between other departments, first make sure you have a good level of communication within your own. The significant benefit of taking this step is that different departments observe and take note. Is your team very productive and regularly meeting deadlines? Is everyone on the same page when responding to other departments? When the communication flows internally, it’s easier to promote communication outside the department.
A few ways to improve communication within a department include:
- Having a channel for your team in the company’s chat software. Even if the topics don’t directly apply to you, you know what’s happening within the group.
- If you’re a manager, be approachable and open to ideas. Today, more than ever, engage with the people you manage. A recent Gallup poll reported that 61% of employees felt their immediate supervisor hadn’t kept them informed of developments in the organization. Furthermore, 58% of employees didn’t feel the organization cared about their overall wellbeing. So, next time you chat with an employee on your team, feel free to ask, “how are you today?”
- Regularly updating tasks in the company’s project tracking software. When team members develop the habit of keeping their projects up-to-date, managers can easily see where to provide direction. Also, teammates can correlate your work with theirs and take action where needed.
(2) Department Heads Should Meet Periodically
The goal of an employee is to work according to the interests of the whole company, not just one department. When department heads meet periodically, they help frame that mindset. How so?
When department heads meet and discuss developments within their groups, the managers can (and should) relay that information to their teams. If a particular topic piques your interest, you can invite the head of the other department to serve as a guest speaker at one of your team meetings and address the team on that subject. Workers can then appreciate how their efforts affect the whole company instead of the department, preventing silos.
A further benefit of periodic department head meetings is anticipating and preparing for projects that require two or more departments to work together. Here, the heads of departments can assign members for the collaboration.
(3) Form Cross-Department Project Teams
Even if one department is handling the bulk of the work, form a project team consisting of members from the different departments that the project touches. That way, all members can stay updated on the changes and inform their respective departments of the progress.
When working on the assignment, here are a few ideas to help maintain open communication:
- Verify that the project tracking software is viewable and editable between departments. If a member updates the project in the software, all other teammates should get a notification.
- Create a group chat for your project team. This channel can be the medium for project-related discussions and the “watercooler” for informal conversations.
- Have regular collaboration meetings, whether in-person or by video conference.
- Celebrate little wins throughout the project—no need to wait until the end.
- At the end of the project, get together one more time to review how the collaboration went and determine areas you can improve on for the future.
(4) Each Person Can Encourage Communication
Individually, workers can promote good communication. Here are some suggestions:
- Provide clear parameters – When writing down the project’s theme, is the description clear? Can someone outside the department understand the scope? Is each phase of the project outlined, along with the criteria for success?
- Encourage questions – When assigning a portion of work to someone, include a line stating to contact you with any questions or concerns.
- Ask questions – If you need clarification on a task, ask. Don’t be concerned about it being a “dumb question.” Asking questions will save you time and energy from redoing the work.
- Make time for social interactions – Enjoy lunch together, go for a walk, or organize a picnic. These moments promote inter-department camaraderie.
Keep Improving Cross-Department Communication with Rainmaker
At Rainmaker, our expert team of consultants can support your business as it achieves its goals. Does your organization need the tools to improve cross-department communication? We can help you integrate Salesforce into your organization’s workflow to meet that need.
Contact one of our Salesforce consultants today!