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13 Ways To Ensure Regular, Effective Communication Between Departments


Departments of a company are often thought of as their own separate divisions. Sometimes, one department might not even really understand what other departments do. However, when departments of a company work well together, setting and meeting a wider set of company goals happens naturally. When operations flow smoothly from one department to the next, issues with everything from inventory to customer service can be avoided.

In order for departments to work well together, they must master clear and regular communication. From streamlining automation and systems to scheduling meetings and preparing agendas to broadening perspectives, there are plenty of ways for teams to improve the ways in which they work together. Here, 13 professionals from Forbes Business Council discuss various ways for department leaders to ensure their respective team is communicating issues regularly and clearly with other departments.

1. Have Regular Meetings With Set Agendas

Having regular meetings between department heads with set agendas is key. It is also important to make sure that all departments are viewed as one team rather than each department being a team in itself. That way, the different departments feel more connected and will likely feel more of a need to communicate with the other departments. – Josh Thompson, Thompson Construction

2. Build A Culture Of Openness And Transparency

It’s essential to build a culture of openness and transparency at every level, where each team member feels empowered and able to share feedback with peers and managers. I think that this, together with ensuring that all employees have access to the same internal communication tool and follow the same basic processes, will make cross-department communication smooth and informal. – Francesca Gargaglia, Amity

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3. Have Employees Visit Other Departments

It’s very simple! The solution to one client’s problem is probably hiding in another department. I ensure that bi-weekly, two members from outside the department attend department meetings in order to get a new perspective on things. For example, we often have our marketing team sit in our accounting and tax department meetings, giving them new content and helping them understand issues more closely. – Aidan Healy, Healy Consultants Group PLC

4. Set Company-Wide OKRs

Cross-departmental collaboration and success can be achieved with one activity: constant feedback loops. This starts by setting company-wide objectives and key results (OKRs) that each team can align their unique goals against, then it’s a matter of reporting upward incrementally. What are individual successes? Blockers? The same applies at team and management levels. Once communications are opened, you can find and resolve any issues. – Stefan Lederer, Bitmovin

5. Provide Transparent Goals And Outcomes

The key to open communication across a company is to provide employees full transparency into goals, outcomes and initiatives across departments. This will create more trust, keep everyone on the same page and maintain accountability throughout the workplace. Additionally, ensuring every department knows their main goals within the company will help to keep departments aligned. – Liz Tsai, HiOperator

6. Consider Who Is Needed At Each Stage

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Communication gaps often arise because departments and their employees are so busy getting the work done, there isn’t space created for building intentional awareness. Within an organization’s strategy breakdown of goals to accomplish and the path to achievement should be who is needed at each stage—for leadership, for effort contribution and for awareness. – Lowell Aplebaum, Vista Cova

7. Implement A Project Management System

Implement a project management system or communication tool. Doing this will help ensure that all communication is centrally located and not buried in email threads. – Julie Ball, Sparkle Hustle Grow

8. Have Each Team Promote Its Collaborations

Goals are most likely to be achieved when there is transparency, communication and accountability. If the leader has each team promote how it collaborates with others, make them accountable for publishing the “case study” and sharing it with the network of teams. This leads to constant and clear communication and inspires others to do so too. The result is a culture of inter-group collaboration. – Jerry Cahn, Age Brilliantly

9. Establish A Standard Opening Procedure

Establish a standard operating procedure (SOP) for each project and clearly define each employee’s tasks. As part of your SOP, you should also identify a point of contact for each department to ensure there is not a breakdown in communications. This workflow will ensure effective and efficient collaboration among team members. – Kelley Higney, Bug Bite Thing

10. Lead By Example Without Taking Any Shortcuts

Leading by example is always the key as a leader. If you work with a central tool, make sure you use it since you expect others to do so. If you make a change, brief people about it and explain why. Regularly ask how it can be done even better through the eyes of others. But most of all, don’t take any shortcuts; it will backfire and start issues, guaranteed. – Bram Weerts, Kea | Analyst Relations

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11. Map Out Departmental Interdependencies

Map out the business interdependencies between departments so all employees understand their impact on the success of the overall organization. Implement shared accountabilities and rewards that fuel team collaboration, and measure progress on KPIs on a weekly basis. When possible, evolve from a department structure into a project-focused model to avoid the creation of a silo mentality. – Andreea Vanacker, SPARKX5

12. Provide A Clear Context With Visualization

Department leaders must provide a clear context. Goals are easy to say, however, not everyone on the team will have the same understanding. It will be difficult for them to be motivated and collaborate if they cannot visualize it. Once the team is guided by a common company goal, they’re more motivated and empowered. – Lane Kawaoka, SimplePassiveCashflow.com

13. Learn Work Styles And Needs Of Other Departments

The initial step is to learn other departments’ communications style, work styles and needs. For example, does the department use Slack for quick turnaround items but email for longer-deadline items? Does a certain department head like to receive reminder nudges about a project daily or weekly? Most professionals know how they work best, so share that information and meet in the middle. – Chris Gerlach, Synergy Life Science



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