How to Improve Communication Between Departments

Have you ever been frustrated with another department at your church? Wondered why they just don’t “get it”? It’s possible they feel the same way about you. If you’ve ever heard of “departmental silos,” you know this refers to departments that seem to operate independently and don’t share information readily with others. This creates inefficiencies, duplicate work, and a decline in morale. It’s important to improve communication between departments so you can work as a cohesive team.

As an organization grows and you add team members, it’s easy for departmental silos to develop. One group doesn’t understand what another group is doing (or why) and when that crosses their path, conflict ensues. Another issue arises when departmental leaders don’t communicate and then present conflicting information to their teams or even the congregation.

Here are several ways to get rid of those silos and improve communication between departments:

#1 – Educate

A lot of the frustration is caused because the team in Dept A doesn’t understand what the team in Dept B really does or why they should care. Start dealing with this issue by having a leader from each department give a 3-5 minute update in an all-staff meeting. The updates should include an overview of that department’s goals, what they’re currently working on, any challenges they’re facing and how the other departments can help. It’s also great for each leader to mention how another department has helped them succeed on a specific goal or at an event.

#2 – Point Out Interdependencies

Accounting can’t provide accurate financial reports to senior leadership without the right documentation from each department. The Media team can’t create an awesome announcement video without details on the latest Kids’ event from that department.

The point is that we need each other to succeed and to serve the church with excellence. We intuitively know this, but sometimes we need a reminder.

#3 – Cross-Train

We’ve all had situations where we needed “all hands on deck” to pull off an event or handle an emergency. It’s also not uncommon for a staff member to change roles and move into a different department.

Prepare for those eventualities by cross-training staff members on each other’s jobs. Have each staff member perform one of their key tasks with another team member shadowing. As they job shadow, have them document the task. This helps them learn the process and ensures you have up-to-date documentation.

You’re probably wondering when anyone would have time for this effort. If necessary, cancel one staff meeting a month (or cut it short) to give everyone a chance to shadow someone from a different department.

#4 – Ask Questions

When you start planning a new event, announcement, or service, ask yourself this question:

“Who will this impact and which department(s) should I involve?”

For example: If you’re in the Children’s Ministry and are planning a fun summer party complete with inflatables, you might ask this question and realize you need to talk with the Facilities team. They can help you figure out where to put the inflatables, what to ask the vendor about how they’re secured to the ground, etc.

#5 – Lead by Example

This goes for everyone, really, but especially if you lead a department – never speak poorly of another department in front of your team. If there’s an issue, go directly to the leader of that department immediately to address the concern.

#6 – Focus on Serving

As followers of Christ, we need to follow His example and serve. Even if another department is driving you nuts, pause and consider the larger goal before “speaking your mind.” You’re all trying to achieve the same thing – reaching people for Christ and making disciples. Keep that in the forefront as you deal with the administrative details that go into working at a church.

#7 – Share a Meal

It’s harder to assume the worst about someone after talking about your favorite sports teams or your kids’ latest antics over a meal. Head out to lunch with a few members of other departments and get to know each other. You can “talk shop” a bit, but focus mostly on developing great friendships.

Departmental silos and the resulting miscommunications, frustration, and tension can hinder your team’s ability to serve with excellence. Break down these walls and open up a path to greater teamwork and collaboration. Making the effort to improve communication between departments isn’t a simple undertaking, but it’s always worth the effort.

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