Coordination within an organization can be an extremely complex issue. The problems that come with unsuccessful coordination are relatively similar regardless of the size or industry of your organization. Without coordination, companies cannot run smoothly.
Principles of Coordination
The friction that can be caused between departments that don’t properly coordinate can create rifts that take years to fix if they can be fixed at all. Rumors and gossip can create as many problems and headaches as poor resource allotment. While all businesses are different, and your particular coordination issues are varied, there are four areas of coordination that every business should consider. The importance of coordination cannot be overstated.
Miscommunication in the Workplace
Miscommunication is one of the single biggest problems when it comes to coordination between divisions and departments. It can be as simple as one person saying “please look back a few months ago” when asking for a file. The asker could mean eight months ago and could consider anything less than a year to mean “a few months ago.”
The person looking for the files, however, could assume that “a few months ago” means three months and will get frustrated when he is unable to find the file. This frustration can lead to breakdowns in interdepartmental coordination. Clear communication, therefore, is key.
Resource Allotment at Work
There are times when some employees must wait on the work of others. While waiting can make employees antsy, this is an unavoidable aspect of work in many industries. When that waiting becomes excessive, or it is negatively impacting your business, you may need to look at why there is a bottleneck.
For example, if you run a printing company, and many jobs always seem to be down to the wire, perhaps you need to invest in more efficient equipment.
Understanding Multiple Priorities
Having regular interdepartmental meetings can feel like walking into a minefield. You don’t want to make any individual feel unimportant or as though she doesn't have a voice at the decision-making table.
To avoid the problem of too many priorities and not enough time, having an excellent project manager or team of project managers can save you a lot of headaches. Project managers can focus on each department’s concerns and pain points and then rank them in terms of importance to your organization.
Staffing Problems and Adjustments
Many times, failure to coordinate can be a sign that you have staffing problems. Staffing problems are not as simple to lay out as resources, fixing miscommunication or ranking priorities because people are far more complex than processes. In a perfect world, your problem will end up being the need to hire more staff or train your existing employees to become more efficient.
Issues and Importance of Coordination
Unfortunately, there can also be the problem of employees not getting along and having issues working together. If an employee’s attitude is contributing to a lack of coordination and is hurting your bottom line, then you should have a frank discussion about how you perceive the employee’s working style. These conversations should be worded in a way that does not leave room for creative interpretation.
For example, you might say: “I’ve noticed that when Janet needs X, you’re not responding in a timely manner. This causes bottlenecks in production and is beginning to hinder other departments. If you cannot get X to Janet in a timely manner – within one business day – then we are going to have to treat this as a disciplinary issue moving forward. Do you understand?”
It may feel mean or blunt to have a conversation of this kind with an employee. However, doing so should be seen and framed as a courtesy that you are extending to the employee. If you are completely clear in your expectations and the consequences of those expectations not being met, you’ve done all you can do to facilitate proper techniques of coordination between your departments.
- Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images