How can you improve cross-functional communication to unite your team? Good interdepartmental collaboration can lead to huge benefits for your organization. Unfortunately however, we often find that workers with diverse roles find it challenging when trying to communicate with each other. There are many ways you can physically bring people together to encourage interaction, but what are some strategies you can use to actually improve cross-functional communication?
Improve cross-functional communication to unite your team
First, utilise your most valuable resource: your employees. Ask them for their input – if you let people have a voice, they’ll be more inclined to speak up when needed to both management and coworkers. Handpick people from each department who will provide honest feedback and ask them how they would improve communication. They’ll likely have valuable insight into communication issues within various departments, know which ones would benefit from working more closely together, and can tell you how information from other departments can improve overall team performance.
Next it’s time to determine the magic formula for communication. Face to face interactions are a necessity, so schedule regular meetings; but make sure they aren’t unnecessarily frequent, too long, or too short. Dragged out meetings will frustrate your employees, who’ll feel that you’re wasting their time and will be less open to communicating. On the other hand, meetings that are too brief will not give your employees an opportunity to be heard.
Once you find the communication “sweet spot”, set a consistent meeting schedule so everyone knows what to expect. Figure out what additional methods are preferred by your team – phone, text, Skype, Google Drive, Evernote, Whiteboards, Notice Boards or collaborative methods. A good project management app that people feel comfortable using will connect people and keep all notes accessible so that everyone is on the same page – something as simple as a company WhatsApp group can also open the lines of regular communication.
Specialized knowledge in a subject is often a barrier to communication, so set aside time for you and your staff to learn more about other departments and the role each plays in the bigger picture. Have one of your experts educate your team about an important topic. Pair up a knowledgeable member from one area with a less experienced member to improve the base knowledge of non-experts and also give the expert a different perspective on a problem. Peer mentoring gives your employees a more rounded view of the organization and the processes involved. When people feel that others understand what they’re talking about, they’re more likely to reach out when they need help.
Good communication practices have to come from the top down – so show them how it’s done. Make a point to regularly interact with people from all over your organization, both formally and informally. Encourage people to direct comments and questions in a positive way to other departments, and consult with others when you want to learn more about a topic or need someone with more expertise on a subject. Model the behaviour you want to see and people will follow your example. Encourage the leaders of each department to get on board with your vision of improved cross-functional communication and you’ll be well on your way to creating a stronger, more united team.
Stu Robertson, Managing Director, Team Up Events
Team Up Events specialises in developing team culture and improving employee engagement by positively contributing to the growth and prosperity of New Zealand work place businesses though the delivery of world class Team Building experiences. For more information contact Team Up Events today.