If your business has multiple departments or employees who are in charge of different tasks, it is important to understand how effective interdepartmental communication works. Interdepartmental communication is the process of sharing information between different business groups. Regardless of how many employees a business has, communication among employees helps to ensure the business runs seamlessly.
Interdepartmental Communication Increases Productivity
There are several benefits to interdepartmental communication. One of the key reasons it should be a focus for businesses is that it helps to increase the productivity of your organization by ensuring everyone is aligned.
For example, if your marketing department is running a campaign for a buy-one-get-one promotion, it is important to inform the customer service reps about how the promotion works and when it starts. If those employees do not know it is happening, your customers will not have a pleasant experience.
Interdepartmental Communication Helps to Avoid Confusion
Another benefit of effective interdepartmental communication is that it helps to avoid confusion. By keeping colleagues up to date on important milestones, projects and other information, your business can avoid making mistakes that can cost time and money.
Imagine if the warehouse was delayed in making an important shipment to a customer. If the account manager was not informed, they could not update the customer, which could result in the customer cancelling the order. However, if the warehouse communicated with the account manager, they could let the customer know in advance and work out an alternate arrangement.
Interdepartmental Communication Builds Trust
Building trust and camaraderie between employees and departments is another key benefit of interdepartmental communication. Employees spend several hours a day with one another, so it is important that they get along. This helps to create an engaged workforce that is satisfied with their jobs. Communicating effectively can help employees to establish friendships with their colleagues, which can strengthen their investment in the business.
Using the Right Communication Channels
There are many different types of interdepartmental communication. It is important to use the best communication channel for the task at hand:
- Interdepartmental team meetings: This is a good way to update the business on key projects and answer urgent questions. Meetings can be time consuming, so it is important to create an agenda and stick to it.
- Email: This is an effective communication channel for distributing information to other departments and answering simple questions.
- Instant messages: For quick updates, questions and information sharing, instant messaging is a great communication channel. It is also useful for time-sensitive tasks.
- One-on-one meetings: Using a planned meeting with a department head, for example, is a good way to discuss issues and provide updates without taking up the whole department’s time.
- Impromptu meetings: Sometimes, it is easier to walk over to someone’s desk instead of scheduling a meeting or sending an email. This is good for urgent tasks or complex information.
- Social gatherings: A fun and team-building atmosphere helps employees to get to know one another outside of the work environment. This can strengthen their relationships during stressful times at work.
Avoiding the Pitfalls of Poor Communication
No matter how many employees or departments your business has, it is important to follow departmental communication best practices throughout the company. Set companywide goals and share them with all departments so the teams know they are all working toward the same objectives. This helps employees to see that they are all on the same team, even though they are in different organizational departments.
Create cross-departmental project teams when possible to encourage interaction between departments. For example, instead of only including marketing in the holiday promotions project, get input from sales and customer service. Cross-functional teams bring different perspectives to the table.
Help different departments to speak to each other using common terms. Sometimes, employees can fall into the trap of using industry jargon that may not be familiar to those from other departments. For example, customer service employees may talk about net promoter scores, which someone from accounting may not understand. Coach employees on how they can be more understanding when communicating with other departments in the organization so everyone understands what is going on.
Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.