Employees spend several hours a day working with one another, so it’s important that they get along. This can be challenging when you have different personalities colliding. An added layer of complication arises when you have multiple departments rivaling with one another. Camaraderie among employees and teams results in higher employee engagement and productivity. Help improve interdepartmental relations at your organization by enabling them to see that they are all on the same team.
Facilitate Effective Communication
Interdepartmental coordination in management and the frontlines begins with good communication. It’s important for departments to regularly update one another on their projects and discuss interdependencies. For example, if marketing is holding a new promotion, then shipping needs to be informed of the upcoming increase in volume. If they aren’t aware, they may not have the staff or resources available to fulfill orders.
Communication among departments doesn’t always come naturally. As a result, it’s important to implement processes and tools to help facilitate it. Hold regular interdepartmental meetings where heads from each department get together to discuss ongoing projects. Use interdepartmental communication software such as Slack or project management software such as Teamwork to encourage communication among work groups.
Have a Common Goal
Interdepartmental relations should be a part of the culture of your organization. Instead of setting up departments to compete with one another on revenue goals, help them to see each other as part of the same team. Everyone in the organization is working toward the same business goals. In order to reach them, you have to work together.
Hold regular town hall meetings where the entire company can come together to hear updates on the progress of the business every quarter. Reiterate the goals you are trying to achieve as an organization and share how each department fits into helping to realize those goals. Remind employees about your organization’s vision, mission and core values at each session to help increase their engagement in the business.
Encourage Empathy to Improve Interdepartmental Relationships
It’s hard to get along with someone if you don’t fully understand the challenges and issues he faces on a daily basis. That’s why it’s important to foster empathy within the organization. Encourage employees to take time to understand the constraints other departments face.
Consider implementing an empathy-building program where one colleague from each department shadows another colleague in a different department for one full day. You can do this on a regular basis, such as once a month or once a quarter. By shadowing an employee in another department, employees can get a feel for what his day-to-day challenges look like. This helps to increase understanding and empathy.
Build Cross-Functional Teams
Project teams don’t need to be organized by department, especially if other departments are involved. Increase the importance of departmental relationships by building cross-functional teams. Combine employees from different departments into a single work group to complete a project together.
For example, if your organization is holding a holiday sale, put together a project group from customer service, marketing, sales and shipping. They can be in charge of the end-to-end promotion. With different teams represented in the group, you’ll get new perspectives that may not be present otherwise.
Connect Outside of the Office
Interdepartmental relationships can also be fostered outside of work hours. Hold regular social events for your employees so they have the opportunity to learn about each other on a personal level. Try team-building activities such as escape rooms where everyone has to work together to achieve a common goal.
Social activities can also be as simple as ordering a few pizzas for lunch once a month or having a cake to celebrate an employee’s birthday. Find opportunities during the day to bring your employees together so they can build relationships that lead to trust and friendship.
- While you want departments to get along, they still need to be able to focus on the tasks at hand. Promote team unity through project assignments within departments as well.
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.