Cross-collaboration can take place anywhere. In the cubicles, open-plan offices, by the water cooler, or even remotely. Yet, most managers can’t seem to get their departments to collaborate effectively. For an effective inter-departmental collaboration to happen, organizations have to fulfill two conditions. Those are teamwork and communication. Both aspects can’t be built overnight rather through a continuous effort and investment of time and money. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you boost teamwork across departments in your organization.
The easiest way to boost collaboration across departments is to make it easier and more attractive in the first place. Most employees dislike working together not because they don’t like their coworkers but because its logistics are slow and hard to follow. For instance, your remote teams are collaborating on an important project. They keep sending the same file with minor adjustments back and forth all day. Moreover, they spend hours digging through their inbox trying to find a document a team member sent over a few days ago. No wonder why no one likes to collaborate! However, it doesn’t have to be this way. All you have to do is simplify the data sharing process. An internal communication app can also be used for storing and sharing data on the organizational level. Therefore, your employees can not only find information faster but also work together more efficiently.
Team Building Activities
A more fun way to improve teamwork is through team building activities. Namely, HR managers frequently organize group activities for employees to strengthen their team spirit, boost their morale, and bring them closer as a team. Employees from various departments bond and interacting while having fun. The best part about team building is that those activities can be actually anything. From going to drinks after work or grabbing lunch together, to going to a resort. Informal gatherings allow employees to get to know each other better outside the office and without any pressure. Through regular interaction, they become familiar with their strengths and weaknesses which is useful when it comes to their collaboration on work assignments. Besides, they become comfortable in each other’s presence, build trust, and professional relationships.
What most employees dislike in the workplace is the uncertainty. They like to know what their exact role is, what superiors expect from them, and what are their responsibilities on each project. It gives them a much-needed structure, especially if they work remotely. When you, as a manager, set clear expectations and share them across departments, employees will work hard not only to meet them but to exceed them if possible. Additionally, it minimizes every possibility of making mistakes or causing misunderstandings. You can also make sure everyone is aware of their roles in reaching business or strategic goals. Now that everyone knows what they bring to the table, they can work together, help each other, and meet desired objectives.
If you are managing a remote team, you probably know by now how difficult can be for them to communicate and connect. Often, they feel alienated from others which ultimately leads to loss of productivity. Video conferencing is a great solution to this particular problem. Employees can have a proper face to face communication even when working remotely. Not only does it give them some sort of a sense of normalcy but also makes them feel included and a part of a team. You can schedule daily video conferences to check in on different teams. During the video conferences, leave a few minutes for small talk among employees. It will strengthen their team spirit and keep it high despite the fact they work from different locations.
There is nothing worse than having departments keeping information to themselves. This is commonly known as a silo mentality and it is considered to be growing pains of most organizations. When employees figure out, they are being kept in the dark about something, things around the office might escalate. They might become disgruntled, unhappy, unproductive, or disengaged. Moreover, they might experience a whole range of feelings, from bitterness to resentment. In the worst-case scenario, you might have to deal with a mutiny in your company. But don’t let it come to that. Instead, make sure there is a free and uninterrupted flow of information across all departments. Encourage them to share even the smallest bits of information. When they are all honest and open to each other, nothing stands in the way of good teamwork.
If you want to improve collaboration, feedback is your new best friend. Giving and receiving feedback does your business so much good. Specifically, it is a great indicator of whether or not your departments effectively collaborate. It is the best way to see what needs improving. Collecting feedback from employees and acting on it shows employees how much you value their opinion and care about the organization. Therefore, don’t shy away from asking questions and collecting feedback. On the other hand, when you give feedback to your employees, they can motivate them to change for the better and contribute effectively to the team. Don’t forget to include the good things in your feedback and not only the bad ones.
As much as meetings can be effective, they are also in most cases inefficient. There is always that one employee doing all the talking while others listen or at least pretend to be listening. Since time is money in the business world, wasting it on inefficient meetings is not something you can afford. For this reason, you should make them shorter but concise. Follow the agenda and communicate the most important ideas straightforwardly and directly. Assign someone to take notes during the meetings, create a report afterward, and sent it to all attendees. This way, you and your employees can quickly return to your tasks and collaborate effectively with fresh information shared at the meeting.