How to improve communication between departments
In the world where we have numerous communication channels available and thousands of tools that we can use to get in touch, there are still some areas of our life where we don’t communicate enough.
One such area is internal company communication. Today we will talk about communication between different departments in a company and give you some advice on how to permanently improve it and what tools you can use.
What's interesting about internal communication is that many people agree that it's broken and intuitively feel that it should be improved. A study showed that 39% of employees believe that people in their own organization do not collaborate enough but, at the same time, 3 out of 4 employers rate teamwork and collaboration as "very important".
Another survey says that two out of three persons believe that the communication between departments in their companies is quite poor. Inevitably, this results in a reduction in the quality of the products and services provided by the organization.
Obviously, this is bad, but the good news is that there are things you can do to fix this. For start, let's see what are the main problems or causes for bad internal communication inside a team or a company.
Broken information flow. Probably the only one field of life where we need more communication is internal communication in the workplace. While everybody is busy doing their work a lot of information slips through the cracks and does not get shared internally, which negatively affects productivity.
Personal conflicts between department managers. Even if there are only two persons involved in a direct disagreement, their dispute will affect processes within the company and interrupt the entire workflow.
Physical separation of different departments. There are a lot of examples of successful teams who are working remotely, but this is not something that can serve for everyone.
Office tribalism. The anthropological fact is that people are identifying with the group where they belong. If a person is focused only on her department (modern tribe), she can't collaborate effectively with the others.
Industry stereotypes. You have probably heard a story that tells that developers are those geeky, quiet guys who know nothing but their code; or the one about designers who should be hipsters to be any good. Such stories are making communication between departments quite difficult.
These are some common issues that are present in most of the companies nowadays. Company management must find a mechanism to prevent such problems from happening and escalating into a major difficulty that would block or slow down the entire company workflow.
Implications of a bad communication between departments will affect everyone - company's employees (who will be far less productive) and customers (who will suffer from bad customer service and leave). To prevent your company from declining, you need to take some action and make communication between department in your company better.
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Fortunately, there are internal communication tools that can help you to mitigate those issues and permanently improve internal communication in your company. Here’s how you can use a simple tool, such as internal company blog, to make things better:
Identify the information each department needs every day. Such information can be a report on available supplies in the storage, the number of orders made by customers, or a bug record from QA team. Without this data production process would stop. After identifying key information, use the internal blog to share this essential information between departments in an easy and transparent way, every day. This archives company knowledge in one place and gives everyone the information they need to make faster and smarter decisions.
Open transparent, two-way communication channel within the company. The internal blog provides an open channel for employee feedback, encouraging them to share ideas and suggestions for increasing productivity within the company. Regularly post open ended questions around actual topics and ask employees to provide their thoughts and opinions in the comments. And it isn’t enough to simply request feedback – acting on employee suggestions keeps them engaged and eager to provide further input as well as being able to find ways to reward employees with their own ideas.
Bridge the communication gap between different departments. Gaps are frequently caused by the lack of transparency and communication. Encourage each department to regularly post on the blog and share news and updates on the work they are doing. This will keep everyone up-to-date on what is going on in the company and how their own work fits into the bigger picture. It will also help everybody to better understand and appreciate work done by others.
Include communication in your working process. In case you haven't done it yet, do it immediately. Communication should be one of the most important procedures in your company. Write it down (as a blog post) and explain to people how they can communicate, when can they do it and in what way. Make yourself a good example and the others will follow. Here are few tips on how to write excellent procedures your team will love.
Practice JFK communication exercise. It's quite simple: your employees should ask not what information the other departments should deliver to them, but what information they can provide to the others. This test will help them walk the mile in the other department's shoes and see how important some info is for them. Again, the internal blog is a perfect playground for this "game".
Organize effective team building activities. Some of you may be a skeptic when it comes to team building activities, but they do work and bring people closer. If you wish to get it right, make sure that the entire team can make it. You can schedule and announce it on your internal blog. Here is some advice on how to organize successful Team Building. Bonus advice: hire a team building specialist, who will organize and conduct such a weekend for you. It is really worth it.
The Internal blog can help you improve communication between different departments in your company, enjoy benefits of higher engagement of your employees and get an effective inner organization with a mechanism to prevent conflicts. On top of that, your customers will be much happier because they will receive better care and treatment.
What methods have you used to set quality communication in your company? Do you use some online tool, or you have some other methods? Feel free to let us know your secret, we will appreciate it!