Communication maze in large organizations
Fostering communication & collaboration in an organization across departments is a continuous effort and positively impacts the culture of the organization.
Well, we often get comfortable working with our team members and in a familiar atmosphere. But what happens when a team is required to work with another department or a team? Do they just go along because they have to or do they have to try really hard to fit in? Teams or departments are often working in silos with little or no communication &collaboration between them. Every team has a particular way of working & communicating. Let us look at a few examples:
Different departments use different technology for every day at work, for example a sales rep might be using tracking app, project management team using collaboration platform, human resource team a CRM and so on. While it’s important for each department to use different technologies, it gets in the way of collaboration between departments.
Let’s look at another scenario where the product and technology team has come up with a new product loaded with features to meet clients’ need. But the sales and customer service team was only given a broad overview and not the details. Consequently, clients were not informed properly about the added features and the customer service was struggling to answer the queries about it. So overall the productivity has suffered.
These are quite common scenarios which can happen in any company. It is important to understand why collaboration across departments is difficult and why silos are formed.
Lack of trust/security: Employees get comfortable working only with their own team/department; they feel secure only in that particular group. Any change or working outside the team might make them feel insecure or uncomfortable.
Lack of communication: There is no common space where all departments can communicate seamlessly; this is one of the main reasons silos are formed.
Physical gaps/Geographical distances: Seating arrangements of departments and diverse geographical locations in an organisation limits face to face interaction.
Managerial issues: Heads of department and senior managers have issues and not enough effort is put in sorting them out and it has a trickledown effect in the entire department.
Technology: Different teams using different technological platforms can hinder collaboration.
Solution lies in collaboration across departments by encouraging interactions amongst employees from junior level to the managerial level.
Their importance in a project: Often departments have their own targets and deadlines to meet so their primary focus is that and they hesitant to collaborate on other fronts. Let the department know how crucial they are to the success of the project by giving them a holistic view of the entire project. Encourage them to share ideas and information on a common & shared platform. Let managers connect on the same platform with a vision and allow all team members to take initiatives. This will keep the team motivated and engaged.
Encourage informal interaction: Physical gaps, managerial differences, trust issues amongst departments often lead to communication and collaboration issues. So it becomes important to encourage employees to interact with each other across departments. Top level managers of departments need to collaborate to create a culture of collaboration and trust across levels by promoting meetings between department heads & senior managers. Bring departments together during tea breaks, lunch hours or set a few hours a week aside where random inter-departmental interactions take place. This efforts needs to come from the top level of an organization.
Shared or Common Platform for communication & collaboration: Get entire organization on a shared and common platform. What is needed is a single platform or application can meet all needs of an organization so that cross-team collaboration seems like a breeze. This definitely takes care of all members being apprised of the project progress and all members are on the same page. All the important information related to the project gets shared on a common platform. Ideas related to the project can be discussed and brainstormed right there. Any plans or changes in the project can be implemented instantly without much fuss. Let all team members share their progress and work plan of the day at the start of the day. Nowadays there are tools available which provide granular & deep controls to keep team conversations high & tight and secure like inGroups, etc. For effective collaboration it is imperative that interface is simple & easy to navigate for a last mile employee and a manager alike.
Feedback: There has to be feedback mechanism to improve processes and create an atmosphere of transparency & trust. With feedback from different employees old redundant ideas are challenged and fresh solutions come into play. Consequently there is a scope of improvement and overall productivity is boosted.
Viewpoint: Employees from different teams will always have a different viewpoint on a project. Brainstorming ideas with different members of a team can help with an innovative solution aligned with project and the goal of the organisation. There will be employees who may have in depth knowledge on a subject matter; it will be advantageous to leverage their knowledge for the entire team.
Celebrate collaborative efforts & wins: Celebrate wins through collaborative effort. Let the entire organization know about the effort and reward the employees involved. This will have a positive impact on the entire organization and encourage employees to collaborate.
Fostering communication & collaboration in an organization across departments is a continuous effort and positively impacts the culture of the organization. Tasks are performed efficiently & faster and all employees are aligned with the organizational goal.