Interdepartmental Communication and Collaboration: Importance, Challenges, and Strategies for Improvement

Interdepartmental Communication and Collaboration: Importance, Challenges, and Strategies for Improvement

by Emma Grace Brown

Organizations can’t survive in the current climate unless they master teamwork. And you can’t have effective teamwork without interdepartmental communication and collaboration. While initiating and maintaining adequate communication across departments is challenging, your employees and customers will benefit significantly. And it will ultimately boost your organization’s bottom line and position you for long-term success.

Today, LibLime shares some practical information and advice for fostering interdepartmental communication and collaboration in your organization.

Why Promote Interdepartmental Communication?

Internal communication can be broken into two types:

  1. Intradepartmental communication refers to communication within the same department.
  2. Interdepartmental communication occurs between two different departments. Maintaining effective communication across departments is crucial for pushing your organization as a whole toward its goals.

It’s not hard to see how important it is for your outreach department to communicate consistently and accurately with the customer /patron service team. By the same token, you don’t want your marketing team approving a new ad campaign without consulting the librarian team to confirm that it accurately represents their products and services.

Proactive, clear cross-departmental communication also facilitates more customer responsiveness and efficiency. In other words, you can respond to problems more quickly and reduce your risk of encountering such problems in the first place.

How Do You Improve Interdepartmental Communication?

Now that you understand its importance, how do you improve your interdepartmental communication and collaboration? Pipefy suggests that the first step should be identifying the information other departments need and creating workflows that facilitate effective communication.

For example, your library could implement business process management (BPM). Automating common practices is an excellent way to streamline workflows while freeing up your employees’ time to spend on more meaningful tasks. When taking this approach, be sure to build a reliable BPM framework and relentlessly monitor it to identify areas you can improve.

Another way to improve interdepartmental communication and collaboration among your team is to encourage and remind all departments to share information when other teams need it. Any general information and reports relevant to a specific department should be made accessible to that department. And each team should systematically document all relevant information. This will leave the information accessible and give the organization valuable data for analysis and decision-making.

Also, consider organizing regular meetings across departments. These meetings can be brief, but make sure the department heads are present and willing to address any pressing concerns and share updates. Managers should also schedule regular meetings with their own teams. Your team may find it beneficial to change at least some of your meetings to walking meetings, explains Spot. Not only does this strategy allow everyone to get out of the building for a little while, but walking can also increase productivity and creativity in your team. If your library is in a walkable area, take advantage of your ability to walk through campus or the neighboring community to chat and possibly pick up a latte together. The exercise and possible caffeine will give everyone a midday refresh and make for more lively engagement during the meeting.

Challenges to Interdepartmental Communication

Lastly, you can expect to encounter obstacles as you seek to improve interdepartmental communication and collaboration. Most breakdowns stem from the lack of a solid communication framework. When you have multiple departments, you’re juggling many different client relationships, stakeholder communication responsibilities, products, services, and more. You must have a communication structure your team members can rely on.

Since libraries are sources of information, it’s also crucial that you have systems in place to make that information accessible to visitors. LibLime is a web-based and cloud-hosted Library Services Platform (LSP) that will help you accomplish this goal.

Also, you must consider how personal opinions and conflict impact communication across departments. Try to strike a balance between building a healthy company culture of collaboration while encouraging your employees to refrain from expressing sensitive information regarding their personal lives.

Further, your departments are likely physically separated with some people still working remotely, which can make interdepartmental communication more challenging. That’s why you must establish robust company policies and practices prioritizing interdepartmental communication, even for teams in different buildings or locations.

Create an Environment that Fosters Collaboration

A comfortable, supportive environment is essential for fostering collaboration at work. This environment is created through leadership and physical workspace. As a leader, it is important that you lead with optimism and reduce complaining whenever possible. Negativity and fear will drain your team’s spirit and make them less productive, not to mention less motivated to come to work. Changing the atmosphere at work can make a big difference.

The physical workspace is also important. When the office is cluttered and messy, it can create a feeling of anxiety that makes it difficult to focus on the task at hand. Conversely, a decluttered, tidy space can help to promote a sense of calm and well-being, making it easier to think clearly and work together effectively.

In addition to maintaining a clean workspace, it is also important to provide comfortable furniture and ample lighting. These simple details can make a big difference in creating an inviting space that encourages collaboration. By taking the time to create a supportive environment, you will be able to reap the benefits of increased productivity and creativity.

Support Positive Communication

If your organization is large enough to require multiple departments, there’s little room for communication mishaps. All of your teams must have the incentive and ability to communicate effectively with one another.  Otherwise, your organization will constantly run into roadblocks on its way to its goals.

Consider the information and advice above as you develop a plan for improving interdepartmental communication and collaboration. And remain open-minded to other strategies that will boost teamwork and efficiency.

About the Author: Emma Grace Brown lives her life by her rules; and it works! When she’s not snuggling puppies, Emma promotes female empowerment through her website. Her mission is to help those who live with self-doubt to realize they don’t have to mold themselves to conventionality.