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Build Your Career Office Life

Playing Nice: 5 Tips to Better Cross-Department Collaboration

Playing Nice: 5 Tips to Better Cross-Department Collaboration
Credit: Alpha Spirit/Shutterstock

A business's success often depends on how well employees collaborate with others, not just with those they work with on a daily basis, but with those in other departments as well.

The biggest challenge in achieving that cross-department synergy often stems from employees having to get along with a mix of personalities.

The most successful and satisfied employees work well with just about everyone, said Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half.

"Building relationships across departments ensures enhanced collaboration, smoother processes and greater influence for practitioners," McDonald said in a statement.

The key to positive collaboration among departments lies in figuring out how to support each other, even when everyone isn't in agreement, according to McDonald. [Why Employees Hate Teamwork ]

"A little empathy can go a long way to promoting goodwill and fostering a positive work environment for everyone," he said.

To help employees and businesses improve cross-department collaboration, Robert Half offers several tips:

  • Don't burn bridges: It's important to try and build bridges, not burn them. Give yourself better insight into a colleague's approach and boost your relationships by working on seeing things from his or her perspective. Try to better understand the pressures colleagues face in their own jobs.
  • Let everyone speak: When working with co-workers in other departments, give everyone a turn to speak. Additionally, ask less vocal colleagues for their thoughts to ensure they have an opportunity to chime in.
  • Don't avoid confrontation: Cross-department conflicts are inevitable. The key is how you solve them. Pretending the problem doesn't exist won't fix the issue or foster collaboration. Rather than trying to avoid confrontation, spend time trying to peacefully resolve the conflict. During these discussions, be sure to listen as much as you talk.
  • Be better sharers: Don't be afraid to inform everyone in the company what goes on in each department. Businesses that voluntarily share information across departments tend to see greater efficiencies and higher staff morale, according to Robert Half. Additionally, giving insight into how each part of the company operates helps everyone better understand the time and resources required for cross-department projects.
  • Be social: It's important to get to know colleagues in other departments. Spend time outside the office, either at company gatherings or at lunch, with these co-workers to strengthen relationships, so it's easier to work together when necessary.
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.