Intradepartmental interactions occur within the same department, such as a conversation between a sales manager and a member of the sales team. Interdepartmental interactions occur between members of different departments, such as a conversation between a programmer and a marketing manager. Effective management of interdepartmental communication can solve many common problems.

Intra and Inter

The prefix "intra" means within, so intradepartmental communications are those that occur within a department. In many companies, most employees have few conversations outside of their own department. Departments may have communication problems, rivalries or even hostilities with one another. The prefix "inter" means between, so interdepartmental communications are those that occur between departments. One way to resolve bottlenecks in the company's operations is to graph the interdepartmental and intradepartmental communications.

Graphing Communications

To draw up a communication graph of the company's organizational processes, write down the names of all employees grouped by department. Ask each employee to describe her daily tasks and name the people she needs to communicate with regularly. Draw a solid line between names when both co-workers mention each other and a dotted line when only one of the two mentions the communication. In most cases, all intradepartmental communications will be marked with solid lines, but some interdepartmental communications may be symbolized by dotted lines. This indicates a communication breakdown.

Communication Problems

Bottlenecks or roadblocks are often caused by poor communication between departments. For instance, a member of the marketing department may not realize that developers are frequently attempting to reach him for advice on their projects but are having trouble getting through to him. From the perspective of the development department, he is hard to reach. From his perspective, he doesn't realize how important it is for the developers to consult with him. Once the need is clarified, interdepartmental communication should improve.

Improving Relationships

One way to build stronger connections across the company is to make all decisions in two phases. In the first phase, issues are discussed only at the intradepartmental level. At the second phase, they are discussed at the interdepartmental level. For example, the customer service team might hold a discussion about a proposed new product and conclude that customers would want it to have a certain feature. Having discussed the product within the team, they can then communicate their conclusions more easily to the developers.