In this age of insta-communication, via social media and smartphones, we’ve lost all our good excuses for not keeping in touch. And it’s the same for business: It’s never been easier for companies to maintain high levels of communication within and between departments–but only if they want to. Yet firms still struggle with communication silos, where the so-called right hand doesn’t know what the left-hand is up to. To avoid this dangerous trend, here are some tips.
Telecommuting is an attractive option for both businesses and workers. The former saves on overhead, while the latter enjoys the freedom of working from home (or anywhere). It’s no wonder that telecommuting has grown by 103% since 2005. Yet the downside of telecommuting is the loss of contact, and among employees of the same department, and between departments.
If businesses offer telecommuting as an option, they should strive to make it “smart” telecommuting. By this we mean, design a telecommuting program that recognizes the importance of face-to-face interactions, particularly between workers of different departments, through regular “at-work” functions. Don’t let the benefits of telecommuting obscure the potentially dangerous effect on your communication, or lack of.
Every worker knows about the dreaded “calendar invite”–the request to attend a meeting that more likely than not will just distract them from work. But meetings, particularly face-to-face, are necessary for maintaining cross-department communication and collaboration, if they are productive, fun, and, vitally, brief. Meetings that acknowledge a specific department’s or employee’s contribution can work wonders toward building a sense of comradery among disparate units. These kinds of meeting signal to everyone how the whole puzzle fits together toward a common goal.
Silence Isn’t Golden:
Finally, it’s an unfortunate human trait that silence breeds distrust. Nowhere is this tendency more apparent than between employees and leadership. A recent study found that, shockingly, more than half of employees don’t trust their boss or organizations. Transparency and communication go hand-in-hand, and–when they’re both in ample supply–employees begin to build a sense of trust in their leaders.
Therefore, prioritize communication efforts from the top down, just as you work on interdepartmental communication channels. Senior leadership should be accessible across all departments and layers of the company: use both more formal company-wide communique and informal “pop ins” to tear down the wall between the C-suite and the company.