If the answer is “I guess so” or “as much as can be expected,” then you could definitely do with a little more collaboration in your workplace. With the ability to improve productivity, boost employee morale, and ultimately, make your business more profitable, cooperation and teamwork between different departments should be seen as a necessity rather than just an option.
Not sure how you can improve the collaboration between such teams of such different people? Our blog has seven fool-proof techniques that are guaranteed to foster strong relationships that are built on mutual trust and a shared common goal within your business.
1. Share the bigger picture
As briefly mentioned above, having a shared common goal is crucial in fostering connections between different departments. Therefore, before you start delegating tasks to each different department, consider having a preliminary meeting for all staff members involved in a project where you can explain what you want to achieve and how each department can contribute.
It can also be beneficial to form a leadership team, which consists of one member from each department, to help form the initial vision for the project and contribute any ideas on behalf of their team.
Don’t forget to also provide ongoing feedback to everyone so that your employees feel appreciated and will continue to be engaged in the task at hand.
2. Utilize information-sharing software
It can be incredibly frustrating, not to mention demoralizing if one department has easy access to certain files or information and another has to jump through hoops to find them. To avoid this problem, invest in a software system that has the ability to organize creative assets and streamline the storage, creation, management, production, and tracking of your digital information.
As a manager or business owner, this type of software can enable you to access and share files at any time and on any device, meaning that even remote workers can still feel part of the team on a daily basis.
Also, look out for any other new tech that can facilitate communication between departments and foster strong relationships.
3. Encourage empathy
It is not uncommon for each department to think they have the hardest and most vital job in a business. However, your job as a business owner or leader is to help your employees to understand how all the other departments contribute to the overall success of the company.
One highly effective way to do this is by adopting a process of shadowing once a month or once a quarter, where different departments can literally walk a day in another’s shoes. By seeing the challenges that other departments face, plus how they overcome them, a culture of empathy will start to develop, and you will find a lot more cooperation between your teams.
Alternatively, why not consider hot-desking? This involves banishing compulsory and assigned seating and instead allowing employees to change where they sit and interact with different teams.
4. Banish jargon from the boardroom
A sure-fire way for one department to alienate itself from another is by simply the way they talk. For instance, industry-specific jargon and complicated technical terms can differ widely from one department to the next and have a seriously detrimental effect on team morale.
Although professionally-speaking it is near impossible to banish jargon completely as it is quite often a necessary part of daily conversations within departments, you can make the decision to banish it from any boardroom meetings. This way, no one will feel left out or isolated when others are speaking or sharing their views.
Instead, try to learn from past miscommunications to see where the disconnect has happened and adopt a common language that everyone can understand.
5. Build bonds
If your different departments are currently not very close, now is the time for you to change this. By focusing on building strong relationships between all your employees, you can establish a connection which in turn will encourage more open communication.
There are several ways that you can encourage friendships within your business, such as going for drinks after work, attending networking events together, planning team building days out, and offering training opportunities that are both available and suitable for more than one department.
6. Make collaboration a priority
This seems obvious, but as well as the above ways to encourage collaboration, you should also be focusing on building a collaborative atmosphere that lends itself well to cooperation and working together.
To create this type of atmosphere within your workplace, take steps to make sure your employees feel both safe and valued, which in turn will lead to them becoming more:
Make sure that your managers or team leaders are shaping a collaborative culture by setting the tone within their department and leading by example.
7. Celebrate success
Rather than have different departments working against each other to try to win the “top spot” within your business, ensure that they acknowledge the achievements of others. The easiest way to do this is by openly celebrating when a specific department or employee has enjoyed success with a particular project.
Don’t limit this to the completion and success of just big projects, as celebrating small wins is great for employee and team morale. Plus, it helps to actively breakdown barriers between departments.
In terms of how to celebrate, you do not have to spend a fortune or put on elaborate events. As with most things in life, it is the thought that counts, and even a simple public announcement or a company-sponsored lunch can work wonders for someone’s self-esteem and for the overall mood in the department.
Improving collaboration between the different departments in your business will not happen overnight, especially if relations are at an all-time low. That being said, with a little bit of effort on your behalf and by following the above steps, you are guaranteed to start seeing positive changes within your workforce.