10 ways to improve interdepartmental communication

Effective interdepartmental communication is a hallmark of successful organizations.

No matter the size of your company or organization, a healthy flow of information between departments, teams, and units helps everyone stay focused on common goals and shared objectives — which leads to increased employee satisfaction, better decision-making, improved efficiency, and more organizational success.

Ultimately, it results in satisfied clients, customers, and/or end users of your company’s products and services.

In this article, we’ll discuss what interdepartmental communication is and how it works, highlight why it’s important, talk about its most important benefits, and share 10 suggestions for improving interdepartmental communication.

A little background on interdepartmental communication

Interdepartmental communication refers to the flow of information between departments, units, and teams in an organization. One of the main goals of interdepartmental communication is to encourage collaboration and ensure alignment with the overall goals of the organization.

Interdepartmental communication is made up of several core concepts, including the exchange of information, feedback loops, alignment with objectives, resource optimization, and collaboration. Sharing such knowledge and resources between teams and departments leads to improved performance and better outcomes for the company or organization.

The importance of interdepartmental communication

Effective interdepartmental communication is imperative, no matter the size of the organization, because without it, there’s a greater chance an organization will encounter these problems:

  • Lack of trust between teams
  • Lack of accountability
  • Unnecessary conflict, miscommunication, and confusion
  • Employees who don’t feel motivated
  • Insufficient consensus on team goals and objectives
  • Duplication of efforts
  • Decreased productivity
  • Failure to achieve company objectives

On the other hand, when robust interdepartmental communication is present, your organization will enjoy the opposite of the above. Key information will flow freely between departments and teams, collaboration will occur naturally, and as a result, employees will be happier and more productive, and your organization will perform better across all metrics.

The benefits of interdepartmental communication

Better communication between teams, units, and departments ensures the smooth operation of a company or organization, and it creates a culture in which employees and other stakeholders bond around common goals, feel invested in the company’s success, and work together collaboratively to achieve organizational objectives.

Let’s look at a few benefits of interdepartmental communication.

More effective problem solving

Cross-departmental team collaboration taps into varied skills, experiences, and knowledge, fostering diverse perspectives. This leads to better insights, new ideas and solutions, and a more robust approach to organizational challenges, helping employees feel heard and valued.

Improved decision-making

When departments communicate effectively and everyone understands the company’s goals and objectives, teams can work together to make informed decisions that result in better outcomes and more balanced choices.

Strong relationships and improved teamwork

Honest communication between departments builds trust, encourages positive relationships, and improves empathy, cooperation, and collaboration — all of which creates a strong team bond, despite different departments having their own goals, priorities, and perspectives.

Increased employee happiness and satisfaction

A collaborative culture encourages different viewpoints and perspectives, makes employees feel heard and respected, increases overall job satisfaction, and reduces employee turnover.

Increased productivity

The above benefits will naturally lead to an increase in productivity. With everyone working collaboratively to achieve company goals and objectives, teams can create efficient workflows, coordinate appropriate timelines, reduce duplication of effort, and seamlessly manage deliverables.

These benefits organically lead to one of the most important results: a better customer experience and increased sales.

10 ways to improve interdepartmental communication

Now that you know why interdepartmental communication is important to your company or organization, let’s talk about a few ways to improve it.

1. Measure the current level of interdepartmental communication

If you don’t have a clear understanding of how effective communication is in your organization or where it’s lacking, you won’t know what to improve or how to improve it.

Before you set out to make improvements, gauge the current level of interdepartmental communication in your organization. This will give you the opportunity to solicit feedback directly from your teams, units, and departments.

You can use polls, interviews, or focus groups to do this, but one of the best ways to collect input is through a survey.

With its intuitive drag-and-drop functionality, the Jotform Survey Maker makes it easy to create online surveys. You can set up conditional logic, add your own questions, and share your custom survey online to start gathering responses instantly.

If you don’t want to build your survey from scratch, select one of over 800 free customizable survey templates, and adjust the fonts and colors to match your branding.

2. Take advantage of technology solutions, like company and employee apps

Adding simple-to-use technology is another way to promote better interdepartmental communication. Using a company portal or an employee app are two examples. This is especially important if your department or team works remotely.

Jotform’s free company portal app template is ideal for consolidating company forms and documents in one convenient location. The app bundles a variety of forms that allow employees to record contact information, file IT service tickets, request time off, and fill out COVID-19 screening checklists. Employees can also share workplace improvement suggestions and report incidents through the app.

It’s easy to build your app with Jotform’s no-code app builder. You can add or change forms, upload documents, create buttons, add external links, and more. Share your app with a link, and employees can access and download it on any device.

You can also create an employee portal for your company with Jotform’s free employee app template, which allows employees to access company information and submit their data from any device.

The ready-to-use template features multiple forms for employees, including employee referral forms, leave request forms, meeting reservation forms, COVID-19 screening forms, expense reimbursement forms, and more. Employees can access and fill out any of the forms from any smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer using the app.

Other technology solutions that make interdepartmental communication more effective include

  • Jotform Approvals. This tool allows you to automate approval processes. Collect HR requests, job applications, IT tickets, and more, and turn form submissions into an automated approval flow instantly — for free.
  • Jotform Enterprise. This powerful platform allows teams to automate, collaborate, and scale. With more than 400 app templates and integrations available, it can fit directly into your daily workflow. Add multiple users to your account and grant form access to other departments, colleagues, or clients to collect data, send notifications, and follow up on submissions together — making interdepartmental communication easier.
  • Jotform Teams. Easily create shared workspaces for teams within your organization. Team members can share data and create forms, tables, reports, and apps so they can work collaboratively online. (Note that full Teams functionality is available only to Jotform Enterprise users).

3. Establish common goals

One of the most effective ways to encourage interdepartmental communication is to establish common goals that departments must work on together to achieve success. Without them, units and teams may work independently on their team objectives without regard for the larger, company-wide goal.

When departments have shared goals, and leadership evaluates their performance based on achieving those goals, they have to collaborate to hit department-wide benchmarks.

For example, while your marketing department may have a goal to generate a certain number of leads for the sales department, they’re likely not responsible for resulting sales, and that means they may pass on low-quality leads just to hit the numbers. But if marketing and sales have to work together to hit a sales objective, marketing will source higher quality leads, and the sales team will have a better shot at closing more sales.

4. Invest in team-building initiatives

If company culture at your organization revolves around a hard-charging, all-work-and-no-play ethos, don’t be surprised if collaboration and teamwork suffer — and productivity along with them.

When everyone has their head down in their own silo trying to hit their targets because that’s what they’ve seen the leadership model and reward, they are less likely to collaborate with others to achieve shared goals. The objective is to ensure every employee feels like they’re part of not just their own team but the overall company team.

You don’t have to sacrifice productivity in favor of fostering fun and camaraderie. If you want to create a culture of teamwork and a spirit of collaboration, consider organizing regular team-building activities.

One way to do this is with an offsite activity. Take employees on a fun outing where they can interact with those from other departments, units, and teams and get to know one another on a personal level. This will encourage teamwork, enhance collaboration, increase employee morale, and boost productivity.

Pick a challenge for teams to work on together and assign employees from different departments to each team. A short list of ideas for offsites includes improv classes, bowling nights, a shared volunteer activity or community project, arts and crafts workshops, game nights, and cooking classes.

5. Prioritize cross-departmental meetings

One of the simplest ways to improve interdepartmental communication is to encourage regular cross-departmental meetings. The goal here is to deepen relationships and enhance collaboration.

Teams and units can come together on a consistent basis to discuss ongoing projects, share areas for improvement, review best practices, and create a plan for hitting departmental and company-wide goals and objectives.

Create a detailed agenda so everyone stays on course, have key players from each department participate, and be sure to put a system in place for implementing the resulting action items.

These meetings shouldn’t be long. If they are, many folks will participate reluctantly, which doesn’t help the cause of improved cross-departmental communication. Developing a detailed agenda, sticking to an agreed-upon time limit, and focusing on a specific goal or topic for each meeting can help.

6. Encourage feedback

One of the most effective ways to enhance communication between teams and departments is by creating a culture where feedback is encouraged.

Team members should feel comfortable sharing their opinions, ideas, and concerns with leadership and other departments without worrying that they’ll be punished for their honesty. Employees will naturally feel more connected to an organization where they’re regularly invited to share their point of view.

If you want folks to feel safe sharing honest feedback, surveys that allow them to answer questions and share opinions anonymously are helpful. Jotform has more than 80 employee survey templates to help you gauge everything from employee satisfaction and employee motivation to job satisfaction, employee engagement, and more.

7. Make collaboration across departments easier

Similar to the rationale for holding regular cross-departmental meetings, simply making collaboration easier will go a long way toward improving interdepartmental communication.

How can you do this?

One way is to keep everyone on the same page when it comes to announcements and other information.

When company news impacts employees across departments, make sure everyone has access to the same details and relevant company communications. If one team receives emails and another team is privy to memos with more context, those who received less information — even if it was an innocent mistake — may feel left out and resentful, which can lead to distrust.

Another way to make cross-collaboration easier is to take advantage of the company portal and employee apps mentioned in the second tip.

8. Lead by example

To figure out how to execute interdepartmental communication, team members will look to leadership and model that behavior. That’s why a culture of communication among and between teams and departments must be promoted from the top down.

From department heads and executives to project managers, the entire leadership team must encourage healthy communication by modeling it through their day-to-day actions.

For example, leaders can make interdepartmental collaboration a core company value, communicate openly themselves, invite feedback from team members, practice mutual respect, make themselves available for discussions and chats, actively engage in interdepartmental projects, and otherwise model the importance of healthy communication for achieving business goals.

9. Cultivate empathy and understanding

Mutual understanding and empathy between and within departments and teams will make interdepartmental communication easier and more effective. And if you’ve implemented the suggestions above, these two elements are likely well on their way to becoming part of your organization’s culture.

When an organization has established a culture of empathy and understanding, team members feel safe and supported in sharing their challenges. They know their colleagues welcome and respect their feedback, so they give it more freely, and they’re more likely to forge strong bonds and strengthen relationships with colleagues.

And once you know someone, you’re more likely to help them — all of which leads to greater trust, a culture of well-being, and a sense that everyone is in it together.

10. Celebrate wins

Everyone loves to feel validated, so be sure to celebrate wins and acknowledge your team’s achievements in the quest for more effective interdepartmental communication. Recognizing wins, small and large, increases motivation and momentum, boosts productivity, and improves employee retention rates.

While acknowledging individual contributions has its place, emphasizing and celebrating team accomplishments helps build trust across departments and encourages team members, units, and departments to work together even more collaboratively.

Rewards could include team dinners, exposure to senior leaders, extra PTO, a donation to the team’s favorite charity, recognition at a company-wide meeting, or everybody’s favorite — bonuses.

Interdepartmental communication plays a significant role in an organization’s success. Using the 10 tips here can help strengthen collaboration and communication between teams and departments, and ultimately lead to greater productivity, enhanced efficiency, improved employee satisfaction, and increased profits.

Photo by fauxels

Kimberly Houston is a conversion-focused marketing copywriter. She loves helping established creative service providers attract and convert their ideal clients with personality-driven web and email copy, so they can stand out online, and get more business, bookings, and sales.

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