10 Steps to Increase Cross-Departmental Communication
Improving cross-departmental teamwork creates change that deeply impacts the culture of your organization. People will feel uncomfortable being forced to work with team members they have been able to avoid in the past. We can guarantee that team members are going to say, “We are too busy to meet this week.” Don’t fall for this trick. Remember, dysfunctional teams will do anything humanly possible not to meet. If you want to lead your organization to the ranks of the Best-of-the-Best, cross-departmental teams in your organization must be united. It’s up to you to set the example and make sure each member on your team understands that teamwork is not an option, but a necessity.
Follow these ten tips to help increase your cross-departmental communication and teamwork:
Acknowledge that your organization has a challenge in building cross-departmental teamwork.
Building awareness is a key to bringing attention to this lack of teamwork.
Take the team’s temperature.
Ask team members, on a scale of one to ten, with one low and ten high, how they would rate the cross-departmental communication and teamwork between departments. Getting a baseline is an important step and will keep your motivation going when communication and teamwork starts to improve throughout your organization.
Hold a focus group.
It is recommended that a focus group comprised of individuals from varying departments and levels, be conducted to outline what ideal cross-departmental communication and teamwork would look like for the organization. It will be important to uncover examples of what employees say is negatively impacting their ability to effectively and efficiently complete their jobs, as well as uncover which department you could work better with as a team.
Make a list of all the problems that can occur when teams do not work well cross-departmentally.
Are there profits or customers that are lost by not being efficient or providing exceptional service? Are processes slowed down because of a lack of cross-departmental support? Gain agreement that these are problems.
Sell people on the problem, not on the solution.
Everyone knows that unified teamwork throughout the organization is important. But asking people a question like, “When we don’t work well cross-departmentally, what impact does the lack of teamwork have on our customers?” is an example of having people understand the ramifications of the problem and accept ownership, versus telling them what we need to do to fix the problem.
Make a list of the top two or three actions or opportunities that would improve cross-departmental teamwork.
Focus on the actions that will give the biggest bang in improved communication and teamwork. Too many actions can be overwhelming.
Once these areas are identified, every manager needs to build a specific action plan of what their team will do differently within their department to improve cross-departmental communication and teamwork. The final action should be to schedule a follow up meeting in 45 days to assess improvements and any further opportunities.
Set up another meeting with the cross-departmental team that you identified as being the one you wanted to improve communication with one week later.
In this meeting, review what went well or right, what problems the team is still encountering, and what actions will be taken the following week to further improve communication and teamwork between the two teams.
Make a commitment to take action.
It starts with you! Commitment to increased cross-departmental communication and teamwork will cut down on misunderstandings, gossip, and feelings of being left out of the communication loop. Increasing communication and teamwork takes time, but the results include increased efficiency and higher levels of internal customer and member satisfaction. It will also be important that managers be held accountable for the communication and teamwork scores in their area.
Repeat weekly meetings until everyone, including customers, agrees that cross-departmental communication and teamwork has improved.
Remember: cross-departmental communication is up to you. Follow the above ten tips for a more unified, succinct organization.