3 Ways to Improve Interdepartmental Communication

3 Ways to Improve Interdepartmental Communication

We’ve all heard the famous saying, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” However cliché it may sound, it rings true in the context of an organization. For projects to go off without a hitch, managers need to make sure that all team members are on the same page, and be in constant communication until the project is complete.

Communication is also extremely important when applied on a larger scale. To achieve organizational success, all internal departments, from HR to Finance, must also be on the same page, and be in constant communication with one another until organizational goals and objectives are met. Simple, right?

Unfortunately, this is where many organizations struggle. According to the DATIS 2018 State of Workforce Management survey report, 66% of respondents revealed that they feel there is organization currently struggling when it comes to interdepartmental communication.

When departments can’t communicate, it becomes increasingly difficult to collaborate on various organizational initiatives. Not only that, but an organization’s culture and employee engagement also suffers when employees aren’t given the proper tools needed to communicate with co-workers outside their department.

With that said, here are a few ways in which today’s executives can improve interdepartmental communication throughout their organization.

Get All Employees on A Single System
Less is more when it comes to internal systems. When different departments operate on separate systems that speak their own language, interdepartmental communication becomes very hard. In cases like this, employees are forced to manually transfer data points, workflows, and projects from one system to the next, which leads to hours of manual data entry. This ultimately slows down internal processes and increases the risk of human error.

Research shows that having numerous internal systems is quite a common occurrence. Data shows that 44% of organizations currently operate on three or more separate internal systems. With statistics like this, it’s no wonder why almost two thirds of employees are struggling with interdepartmental communication.

To address this issue, executives should look to replace their multiple systems with a single, unified platform that meets the needs and challenges of their entire organization rather than individual departments. Unified systems put all employees on an equal playing field and make it effortless to share information without it slipping through the cracks, allowing for much less communication barriers between departments.

Remove Information Silos
Information silos are one of the most common communication barriers found within today’s organizations. According to SmallBusiness, information silos “exist when information isn’t shared between departments or divisions.” These silos often lead to missing information, a lack of synergy between departments, and duplication of effort.

When departments can’t share data with one another, communication becomes much more of a challenge. In fact, 42% of executives say that siloed information is their greatest obstacle to interdepartmental communication. Removing these silos can open the doors to a more collaborative work environment, which in turn can increase employee engagement and spark innovation.

When data can be shared from between departments, employees, managers, and executives are equipped with the right information that empowers them to make more informed business decisions. Imagine if an organization’s payroll department has easy access to their HR’s Time and Attendance data, or if the hiring team can quickly tap into their organization’s latest performance reviews to pinpoint internal success factors. This can be done by removing information silos.

Form Cross Functional Teams
Aside from information silos, the 2018 State of Workforce Management survey report found that the second biggest obstacle to interdepartmental communication is a lack of cross functional teams. Workzone provides a simple definition of these teams, stating that a cross functional team is “a team that involves people from more than one department.” Cross functional teams force employees to leave the comfort of their own department, and work with colleagues from all around their organization.

These teams not only bring employees from different departments together, but having multiple backgrounds and perspectives in a single team help inspire new ideas, forcing team members to think differently. For example, pairing a marketing professional with someone in development within a software company can help them better understand each other’s roles, and can give marketing a better understanding of the software. This could then spark a new idea for the marketing professional to take back to their team.

There are countless benefits that organizations experience when they implement strategies to improve interdepartmental communication. When departments work together, organizational goals seem easier to reach, culture and engagement improve, and data go flow seamlessly throughout the organization. This allows organizations to realize their full potential, and makes for a better work environment for everyone involved.

This DATIS Blog was written by James Clark, DATIS, on March 23rd, 2018 and may not be re-posted without permission.

Written by James Clark