Typical Problem Found – Lack of Communication Between Departments

One problem we often identify as being in need of improvement using our quadrant analysis is communication between departments. This has consistently been one of the lowest-rated items in our survey, with, on average, slightly more than 40% people agreeing with the statement “there is adequate communication between departments.”

This is a serious issue, not just because it affects employee engagement, but also because of the resulting inefficiencies created in an organization where it is a problem. When the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing there can be duplication of efforts, resources applied against low priority items, lengthened lead times, quality problems and lack of teamwork. Therefore, when we identify this as an issue for an organization, it is important for a company to improve interdepartmental communication as soon as possible.

Where Is the Communication Problem?

Early in the process of evaluating what is causing the breakdown in communication, analyze the communication-between-department scores at the department level. Sometimes we find that interdepartmental communication is an issue for an entire company. Other times only certain departments have low agreement levels with this item. Determining whether the problem is company-wide or limited to certain departments is important when you investigate the root causes of the problem.

What Is the Communication Problem?

What needs to be improved depends upon the source(s) of the communication problem. Some of the factors that can contribute to poor communication between departments are:

  • Departments separated geographically (different buildings, cities, states, etc.).
  • Different work shifts.
  • Employees overloaded with work.
  • Departments not understanding the communication needs of other departments with whom they work.
  • Corporate politics.
  • Inadequate communications methodologies, or methodologies not appropriate for particular types of workers (work role, generational differences, etc.)
  • Incentives that reward individuals or individual departments, but don’t reward teamwork in any way.

More than one of the above factors can be causing problems.

Fix the Communication Problem

Once you know where the problem is and what is causing it you should be able to easily identify potential solutions. Simply stating that “communication between departments must be improved” is not enough. You’ll need a plan of action and a means of measuring progress against it.