How Strong is Your Workplace Cooperation

The best organizations are greater than the sum of their parts, and that’s usually a matter of departments working well together. 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.

How Strong work coorporation

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

In our survey, only 51% of employees at average organizations nationally responded positively when asked how they feel about interdepartmental cooperation in the workplace. But at organizations that qualified as Top Workplaces, this positive rating jumps to 70%, and in some cases close to 90%.

The first step toward assessing interdepartmental cooperation is to use survey results 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.

Big picture plans

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

What to watch for

  • Cooperation can matter a lot, even for departments that don’t collaborate frequently.
  • If departments don’t have visibility into each other’s needs or processes, they may have trouble “speaking the same language.”
  • Generally, the handoffs between departments introduce a lot of unnecessary friction and are a good starting place for improvement.

Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based research and consulting firm that surveyed more than 2 million employees at more than 7,000 organizations in 2019. Energage is The Washington Post’s research partner for Top Workplaces.

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