Is Interdepartmental Cooperation Working for Your Organization?

by Bob Helbig

How to improve a culture driver that’s key to alignment

The best organizations are greater than the sum of their parts, and that’s usually a matter of interdepartmental cooperation. Because when everybody in the organization is working toward a common goal, each department becomes more effective and driven. When departments work well together, employees feel a real sense of belonging.

But when there’s trouble brewing in this area, implementing a successful strategy becomes almost impossible. Departments strain against each other and create unnecessary friction that eats up resources and customer patience. And this sort of fractured culture can introduce all kinds of challenges for employee morale and job satisfaction.

Top Workplaces companies outperform average organizations

Data gathered from the Energage Survey shows that only 51% of employees at average organizations responded positively when asked how they feel about interdepartmental cooperation in the workplace. But at organizations that earned a Top Workplaces award, this positive rating jumps to 70% — and some even achieved close to 90%.

How to measure interdepartmental cooperation

The first step toward assessing interdepartmental cooperation is to use a trusted employee survey to identify and address communication breakdowns between departments. Great ideas may come from team action planning.

From there, it’s important to create informal ways for people to connect with others outside their departments. Consider introducing off-hours meetups for people with shared interests. Here are some other ideas based on our research:

  1. Synchronize strategies, performance measures, and productivity tools across the organization.
  2. Create a high-level process map of the whole organization to understand and clarify interactions and opportunities.
  3. Where possible, reduce competition across departments and do what you can to support trust between department leaders. Consider introducing cross-departmental improvement projects.
  4. Encourage leaders to promote a sense of belonging within the group and better relationships across different groups.

Interdepartmental cooperation red flags

  • Not paying attention to interdepartmental cooperation across the entire organization. It can matter a lot, even for departments that don’t collaborate frequently.
  • A lack of visibility into department needs and processes. When this happens, they may have trouble “speaking the same language.”
  • Poor handoffs between departments. This can introduce a lot of unnecessary friction. It’s a good starting place for improvement.