Cross Functional Communication
“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”Peter Drucker
What to Know
In our busy, technology-driven, and dispersed work world, it is difficult to find regular opportunities to interact and communicate with other groups. Get creative. It is critical to stay informed about other groups’ work, their challenges, successes, and opportunities to make life easier on one another.
Email is often our go-to communication. Email is great for many purposes, especially sharing information and giving updates across a large number of people. Email is not as effective, however, for brainstorming ideas or problem-solving. Cater your method of communication to best serve your purpose, particularly when it involves many people and groups. When in doubt, pick up the phone or talk in-person.
What Managers Can Do
Keep lines of communication open for individuals to voice frustrations, concerns, needs, and suggestions for improvement.
Facilitate a conversation with another department and ask: 1) How is our customer service? 2) How do we make your lives easier/more difficult? 3) What would you like our department to know about how we work together?
When asking for help/support from another department, be sure to communicate the reason for the request and the impact it will have. When people understand how their contribution will have an impact, they are more often more likely to be open to help.
What Employees Can Do
Put yourself in others’ shoes. What can you expect them to know about your role and what might be difficult to know? Find opportunities to share information about the parts of your work that others may not understand.
Start by asking questions. Rather than jump to conclusions or assumptions about others, engage in some “appreciative inquiry.” Learn about where others are coming from before saying what’s on your mind.
What are you curious to know about other groups you work with (or that you don’t work directly with)? Brainstorm a few questions and ask your manager to connect you with someone on the other team to learn more about them.
What Leadership Can Do
As an Executive Team, agree what specific messages need to be shared and by when so information is disseminated thoroughly and consistently across all groups. Ensure others leaders also feel comfortable sharing key messages with their teams.
Facilitate conversations between department leaders to encourage open and frequent communication. Ask groups to share current priorities, recent successes/milestones, and challenges that are top-of-mind.
Coach managers to have difficult conversations and effectively resolve conflict. Help leaders identify different kinds of conflict — task, interpersonal, and process conflict, so they can direct conversations to the root of the challenges they’re facing.
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Suggestions From The Community
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