With the raising complexity in current business environments, Cross-departmental collaboration is more than a buzzword. Professionals within the enterprises are realising the need to work closely with other departments and they are also finding that such alliances are highly essential to company performance.
In order to sustain the continued growth of every enterprise and push business strategies to new heights it is important to have well aligned departments.
However, it is easier said than done. Even with companies giving paramount importance to collaboration, some employing collaboration tools also find it challenging and continue to struggle to break the departmental silos due to the diversity of personalities and skill sets within their enterprise.
When the departments don’t work well together, it can lead to chaos, mistrust and heavily impact the growth objectives of the enterprise.
So it is highly imperative that enterprise should overcome the obstacles by striving to knock down the barriers between people and departments, encouraging employees to build strong interpersonal relationships to achieve the broader objectives.
Here are some of the challenge companies face in cross-departmental collaboration.
1. Departmental Silos
This is predominantly seen in large enterprises, having departments with clear roles and responsibilities. The employees within the departments tend to focus heavily in achieving their own goals and objectives, rather than focusing on what the enterprise is aiming to achieve as a whole. This inadvertently leads to self-isolation and creates departmental silos.
In departmental silos, the team members limit their interactions within themselves and they rarely interact with other departments. This limits their understanding of each other’s job responsibilities and don’t understand what is happening outside their department.
More over the ongoing pandemic has forced more work to go remote, which has caused total isolation of departments. And we see remote work to evolve as the way forward so collaboration is seen much stronger than ever before.
Solution: Companies should make a conscious effort to break the departmental silos by encouraging social interactions in the enterprise as a whole. They can run collaboration projects by involving members of different departments, so they get to know each other better.
Enterprises can also introduce learning opportunities for employees to understand how other departments better understanding of how the other departments function towards achieving the goals of the whole organisation. Employees should be encourage to have one-on-one interactions with other department employees to enable them to appreciate their challenges.
2.Challenges due to different personalities
Every enterprise employs a diverse range of personalities. Employees interact with all types of people — from extroverts to introverts, leaders to followers. This often leads to conflicts.
Solution: A critical component in collaboration is to make employees aware of the personality types — and to respect each other. Training employees in team building, understanding cross cultural diversity can help groups learn to interact with each other and find the positive strengths in all personalities.
3.Challenges due to different vocabularies
Every department within the enterprise uses their own set of terminologies and abbreviations that only they understand better. They quite often tend to use them while interacting with other departments which many not be fully understood by the others. This sometimes creates barriers.
Solution: Communication is the cornerstone for effective collaboration. So the enterprise should encourage employees to convey information in such a way that co-workers outside their department will understand. While conveying information:
- Avoid the use of jargon
- Don’t assume people will understand even the most basic of acronyms
- Define terms in the language everyone will understand.
- Use visuals tools like images and graphics, rather than spreadsheets.
Employees should also be encouraged to ask questions and clarify things that they don’t understand for ease of information flow.
4.Challenges due to managing resources
Interdepartmental projects help enterprises drive growth. But the employees involved are often tied up with their everyday responsibilities. This leads them to spend little or no time to collaborate. However, these projects help in breaking departmental silos and play a big part in building collaboration and should be encouraged in the organisation.
Solution: Establishing clear timelines and scopes of the projects can help employees to set aside time to work on these collaborative projects. Effective Communication with the team members can help in coordination. Departmental heads should get involved in periodic projects reviews to understand the timeline and resource allocations.
5.Challenges due to lack of leadership support
Sometimes team members look forward to guidance and support, especially when they convey information to the other departments. They want to make sure their image is protected. This is where leadership support plays a huge part. Lack of support creates an atmosphere where employees feel that they don’t have a say in how the department interact and collaborate. This discourages them from being motivated and be proactive to collaborate.
Solution:Department heads, manager and supervisors should lead by example. They should set clear guidelines for collaboration, encourage collaboration by leading the cross functional collaborative efforts and adopting an open-door policy to identify and break collaboration barriers. They should cultivate an environment where employees feel respected and rewarded for their collaborative efforts, more connected to the company and committed to its success.
Many challenges of collaboration can be overcome using companywide digital platform as a collaboration tool that can help employees collaborate seamlessly with in department and inter departments.
Each professional in the organisation have a wealth of information, expertise, skills, ideas and talents to contribute to the organisation. When everyone recognises this and gets together to achieve the objective and goals of the organisation as whole, cross-departmental collaboration works at its best.
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