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Improve Cross-Functional Communication Effectively

Avatar of Autonomous Autonomous | Mar 16, 2021
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Cross-functional communication can be a challenge for any organization. This is due to everyone working in different departments. Due to everyone working in different departments, communication becomes slightly more difficult as everyone can't be addressed simultaneously. Employees across different departments generally also have different personalities and this can make communication even more complex. However, if done properly, the results can be phenomenal.

Remote teams have become more common due to the circumstances imposed by Covid-19, how to manage remote teams and making the process of communication even more important. Learning how to communicate across different departments, as well as the common remote management mistakes to avoid can be a major boost to any organization. 

Pros and Cons That Come With Virtual Communication

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  • icon checkMore workers feel like they have a voice.
  • icon checkVirtual communication can give remote workers or introverts the confidence they never could find in the workplace.
  • icon checkIt teaches people to utilize other forms of communication that they may not have used before going remote.
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  • icon timesIt can be hard to read your co-workers tone of voice if you are communicating through text or email.
  • icon timesBody language is typically not seen when companies virtually communicate. This is a huge disadvantage when it comes to hiring and firing.

The Difficult of Cross-Functional Managers to Understand and Express to Each Other

There are a variety of issues that can arise with cross-functional communication. These issues make the entire process more complicated, and if not managed properly can result in catastrophic failures. The main goal of cross-functional communication is to achieve the success of a project that is spread across multiple departments. Due to different departments and their respective managers being involved, errors such as misunderstanding can occur. This issue can be dealt with by understanding the problems associated with cross-functional communication and effectively dealing with them.

The first difficulty that managers of a cross-functional project may experience is that the goals and priorities of the different departments are misaligned. This problem often occurs due to poor collaboration between the departments. When they do not communicate on the end goal and how they plan on collectively achieving the goal, it can result in a disjointed team. By not communicating the goals properly, it is almost as if you have two separate teams in the same smart office working towards the same goal, rather than one joint team.

The Difficult of Cross-Functional Managers

The next issue that cross-functional managers experience is the amount of communication that is present. Some managers tend to over-communicate, whereas others communicate way less than is required of them. Too much communication can lead to too much information being relayed, often resulting in an overload of information. Having too much information can be troublesome, as some of the information can become lost in translation. On the other hand, too little communication is just as bad, if not worse. Where there is insufficient communication, productivity drastically decreases, and mistakes become more prominent. 

The last issue relating to the difficulties experienced by cross-functional managers is that there is often a lack of trust between departments. This can be a massive problem that should be dealt with straight away. A lack of trust results in the separate departments not communicating properly and them somewhat doing their own thing. This defeats the entire purpose of a cross-functional team. The issue can be resolved through a series of team building like virtual team building and trust exercises. It is crucial that teams from different departments that are working towards the same goal are able to trust one another for the best results.

Tips to Help Manager Cross-Functional Communication

Although cross-functional communication can be a challenge for even some of the most experienced managers, there are some tips that you can implement in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness. Listed below are some tips that you can consider implementing into your cross-functional communication process for improved results. It is important that all cross-functional partners of a cross-functional collaboration implement these tips, as if it is one-sided, it could not be as effective.

Tips to Help Manager Cross-Functional Communication

Set Aside Time to Communicate with Other Cross-Functional Managers

One of the most important parts of cross-department communication is that the managers of the two departments frequently communicate with one another. What this does is allow them to establish what needs to be done by each team, as well as what still needs to be done. By doing so, teams can effectively monitor what has already been completed, as well as what still needs to be done. Failing to do so can result in time being wasted as well as other issues arising.

Set Aside Time to Communicate with Other Cross-Functional Managers

Trust, Not Competition

Cross-team communication is for the purpose of collectively resolving an issue. There should be no competition between separate departments, but rather a collaborative effort to solve a problem. It is important not to view the other team as your competition but rather as a tool that you should trust in order to effectively complete the task at hand. By trusting the other team, you can focus only on what your department needs to achieve. This can save tons of time, as well as improve how efficiently you are able to get your tasks done. Then, increase productivity and improve overall team performance.

When the departments compete with one another instead of trusting each other, the entire process is drawn out and the quality of work suffers.

Trust, Not Competition

Align the Goals of the Departments

It is important that managers of different departments come together to discuss what needs to be achieved. In doing this, they can establish what each department should focus on, as well as set goals for each department. This can assist each department to stay on track throughout the project and get much more done in a shorter period of time. It is also important to communicate once goals have been achieved and consistently update them. By doing this, neither department is ever in the dark in relation to what still needs to be done, making the entire process much easier for everyone involved.

Align the Goals of the Departments

The Bottom Line

Cross-functional communication is a challenge for even some of the most established organizations. Differing interests and ulterior motives can be a major hindrance in the process. Whether you need to communicate on acquiring new standing desks and office chairs, or major strategic implementations, the process should be the same. Communication is key to the success of any organization and being able to communicate between departments can make a major impact on the productivity and efficiency of the employed staff.

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