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10 tips to foster efficient inter-departmental collaboration

10 tips to foster efficient inter-departmental collaboration

A well-functioning team requires a shared vision, respect, and impeccable communication. However, departments often suffer from tunnel vision when it comes to day-to-day operations. It is vital to remember the importance of collaboration across your company. Inter-departmental collaboration creates a healthy, high-functioning, and successful working environment. 

Make sure you avoid operating in “silos”, in which different teams fail to work together. Your company can achieve its goals more efficiently and at a higher standard by working together. 

The sections below will provide tips on how you can foster efficient inter-departmental communication, which will save you both time and money. It will also lead to a happier and healthier workforce and a better customer experience

1. Bring Teams Together from the Beginning

Whether you are just starting your business or embarking on a new project, don’t wait to bring teams together. Integrating teams from the beginning will help avoid inefficiencies. Your teams will know how they should be completing their workflow to help other departments complete theirs. Teams will also be able to brainstorm ideas more efficiently and with more creative solutions. 

You should also bring teams together before the start of a project. Nothing is worse than a team getting pulled into the project near the end. It can risk overloading the team with work and putting stress on the entire project. Even worse, steps completed previously may be incompatible with the tools used by the newly integrated team. 

Make sure you identify important project stakeholders across your company at the beginning of the project. Then bring together the teams for a project kickoff meeting to make sure everyone is on the same page. Especially if this project is a part of scaling your business, everyone must know their role. Go over the project scope, timelines, deliverables, and how to measure success. 

2. Use the Same or Compatible Tools

Uniting teams across departments is much simpler when you utilize the same systems and tools. At the very least, you should make sure your different tools are compatible. Just like you want your team members to be able to communicate easily, you want your different tools to be able to talk to each other too. 

When you are considering integrating new software, take an audit of the tools your company already uses. Also, consider looking at the 50 leading SaaS companies to find which software is highly rated and best suited for your business. Try investing in one tool that can be used across departments. By doing this, you will avoid wasting multiple tools when one tool will provide all the services you require. 

Whenever you are thinking about changing or getting new software, talk to your departments. While the IT department will most likely oversee the implementation of new systems, it is vital to get other teams’ input. Ask them what tools they are comfortable using or familiar with and what features, tools, or capabilities might be helpful for them.

3. Create a Collaborative Culture

Your company should promote a culture of communication. Make it a priority that your teams share information and develop relationships between departments. Departments should always be sharing timelines and work goals with different teams. This will not only improve company efficiencies, but it will also improve wellness in the workplace.

One step you can take is by creating “homeroom” sessions. Team leaders can meet to discuss team goals for the day and they can see where their goals intersect with other departments’ goals. They can also ask if they should prioritize any of their tasks to help other departments finish their work. 

However, a collaborative culture is born over more than just work. Take some time each week to have departments interact with each other and create bonds. You can try implementing team building games. These games can be played at weekly or monthly meetings or company social events. Carve out time in each week that is not about work but about creating a community.

4. Make Sure Everyone is on the Same Page

You want to make sure all your teams have the same objectives and vision. Explain each team’s role and how it works towards a common goal. This should be articulated in terms that everyone can understand. This only works if there is effective communication across your company. Make sure that no one is left in the dark about what they are doing or why. 

If you have a lot of team members remote working, look into free web conferencing software. This will help even your virtual teams keep in contact across departments. Have regular meetings about project progress and team goals. This will make sure everyone is communicating effectively and staying aligned with your company’s vision.  

You may also find that creating a shared language across all your teams will also help to keep everyone on the same page. This can be technical or not, but it will help them understand the importance of the mission, their role, and why it matters. 

5. Get to Know Other Departmental Processes

Team leaders need to acknowledge the places where their work overlaps with other teams. Then there should be an understanding of their role to make sure they overlap seamlessly. All team members should appreciate the whole business process, not just their singular part in it. 

For example, if an IT department knows the processes of customer service departments, they can provide the right tools. They know if tools, like inbound call center software, could optimize the work processes of your representatives. In turn, this will make for a better customer experience. This will result in a more successful sales department. 

During projects, unnecessary frustrations will be avoided if teams are involved in other departments’ processes. They will fully understand how each of their roles aligns with the overall strategy and vision. Each team can also be supported by the expertise of other departments. 

Clearly communicate the outcomes and action items from team meetings to the entire staff. Share what is going on with your team and what your goals are for the week. Have your teams be proactive about teaching others about their role and daily processes. Don’t have them wait to be asked about what they wish other teams know about their work. 

6. Provide Context

It will be hard for a team to feel committed to a project if they don’t know how they are vital to the big picture. Teams should have visibility and an understanding of the project objectives and vision. They will not only be motivated to complete their team’s objectives, but they can also provide input on how to optimize their work. 

Your company should build feedback loops so employees can experience the impact of their role. For example, if you set out to improve your e-commerce brand strategy, make sure you keep your teams up to date with progress. The marketing, IT, and sales teams should get feedback after each step. Show them how their role influenced the final product. 

7. Encourage Feedback

Across your company, make sure you encourage your team to give feedback. You need to build an environment in which your team feels comfortable sharing their opinions. Do not just put a suggestion box out. Actively seek feedback by sending out regular surveys and enquiring emails. Ask your team what is working and what is not.

Taking regular feedback can help streamline intersections between departments. It can also help a team perform better which will improve and ease the work of other teams. You should store all data from this feedback on the cloud to make it accessible to managers and team leaders. However, since it will contain potentially sensitive employee, customer, and company information, make sure you look into the best CASB vendors. This will ensure the safety of your data. 

8. Lead by Example

Don’t ask your employees to do things that you aren’t practicing yourself. Communicate, practice transparency, offer supportive feedback, and collaborate with other departments. Also, make sure to hire managers and team leaders that can actively participate in your collaborative culture. Make sure to include those skills in your digital recruitment. Find leaders that can be team players. 

Executives need to champion whatever change they want to make in their companies. Relationships among company leaders will have a significant impact on how well team members collaborate. If two managers do not promote a united front, it is highly unlikely their team will. 

Initiate meetings with managers and team leaders to understand their progress and challenges. Foster a community of group problem-solving and brainstorming. This will make your company more innovative. Here, you can develop effective sales strategies and customer service best practices

9. Celebrate Wins

Make sure you celebrate wins and acknowledge the roles each team played in the success. These celebrations do not have to be large milestones. Acknowledge even the small wins and be holistic in the praise. Celebrate success as teams, not as individuals. This will build trust and respect across departments and among team members. 

Celebrating small wins can help sustain momentum and motivation while breaking down barriers. Acknowledge the roles each department played in that win. Also, these successes do not have to be extravagant. You can off company-sponsored happy hours or catered lunches. These opportunities will allow employees to intermingle in a low stress, rewarding environment. 

Use human resources software to keep track of the time your employees put in and their progress. The utilization of software to monitor teams and employees will ensure you recognize what your employees are doing well. It will also let you easily celebrate other things like employment anniversaries and team milestones. 

10. Cultivate Empathy, Trust, and Wellness

Teams having a mutual understanding between departments can make collaboration more efficient and effective. Encourage your teams to shadow other departments to see the challenges they face. It also allows them to visualize your company and its mission from a different perspective. 

Make communication easy for both your employees and your company. Keeping active communication will help build a culture of wellness in your company. No matter if they are remote working or in the office, they should be able to reach team members with the same ease. Consider the pros and cons of VoIP for company communications. If it is a good fit for your company, it would give your employees access to their business lines from anywhere. 

Also, prioritize trust-building within your company. There are many aspects to trust, such as the trust of integrity, ethics, or competency. Let your employees know what you are doing to ensure the integrity and transparency of your company. Follow policies and procedures that will make your employees never doubt your good intentions as a business. 

Consistency is important in building trust as well. When you make policies and procedures, you must follow them. You should never surprise your employees with new policies or the enforcement of those you normally don’t recognize. Being consistent will promote a strong degree of psychological safety. 

Promote the idea of openness. There is no such thing as a ‘silly’ question. Encourage teams to stretch their imaginations. Make a safe place for interpersonal risk-taking that puts very little risk on the business’s day-to-day functions. For example, if you plan on setting up a customer service line, consider getting a vanity number. This is a number personalized to your business. Before deciding on one, encourage suggestions from your employees. This may be an opportunity to promote collaboration while giving your employees a fun, low-stress task. 

Conclusion

Efficient inter-departmental collaboration is vital to a successful business. It will improve processes and lead to innovative solutions that will push your company to new heights. This requires leadership, understanding, and communication.

Make sure your teams know their goals and how they fit into your company. Encourage feedback and curate a collaboration culture. By all your teams working together, you will improve sales, the customer experience, and employee wellness. If you make inter-departmental collaboration the main objective, you can make your team want to meet larger goals. This will create a community of your people working hard to make your company succeed. 

Elea Andrea Almazora

Elea Andrea Almazora

Elea is the SEO Content Optimization manager for RingCentral, the leader in global enterprise communication and collaboration solutions on the cloud. She has more than a decade's worth of experience in on-page optimization, editorial production, and digital publishing. She spends her free time learning new things.

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