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Why Working Across Departments is Important

Three men at a table looking over work documents, working together

Ever wonder what your co-workers do all day?

When you’re entrenched in your own responsibilities, it’s easy to forget that other departments not only exist, but that you’re all serving one main goal: fulfilling the mission of your organization. And while having a well-oiled department that functions on its own is nothing to sneeze at—it shows that you’ve gotten into a good rhythm for your work—sometimes what is best for the organization (and for you personally!) is to find ways to work more closely with members of other departments.

With an already full to-do list, however, it might be hard to envision the benefits of creating and/or tackling cross-departmental projects. After all, we work in separate departments for a reason! But the benefits to your organization and to you are worth the effort. Here’s why working across departments is not only beneficial, but important.

The benefits of working across departments

Keeping connected even while working remote. Without the opportunity for chance meetings in the hallway, kitchen, or break room, and without in-person meetings to make more substantial contact, it’s far easier for individuals and teams to feel more disconnected in general. Creating opportunities for cross-departmental work can help maintain work relationships, especially for those of us who are working remotely and alone.

Employees gain a holistic view of the organization’s work. According to Chris Canialosi, a contributing writer at Forbes, having a working understanding of other departments will give you broader-picture insights. Learning what other departments do and working with them on collaborative projects are concrete ways to gain knowledge about the organization’s other moving parts, and how those parts can work together to better achieve the organization’s mission. When members of different teams communicate often, ask questions, and have a firm grasp of the nature of one another’s work, productivity—not to mention morale—is considerably boosted.

Working together better fulfills the needs of multiple departments. Collaborative work also allows team members to bring their individual work styles, skills, and perspectives to other projects, giving us the chance to tackle new challenges, as well as opening up possibilities for new solutions and better results. Imagine not knowing that the perfect approach, team member, or resource for a task your team is stuck on has been under your nose the entire time. Keeping each other abreast of your ongoing projects and challenges ensures that every problem finds its solution.

Communication offers opportunities to improve our own methodologies. When each department is transparent about how their work gets done, you have the opportunity to reassess the way you do your own work and highlight any blind spots you or another team might have. When working together, take note of what questions others ask about your department, what is confusing to them about the way you do your work, and consider how that might help you discover ways to improve your way of doing things.

Understanding one another’s work instills a spirit of camaraderie. When you begin to learn how each team’s work relates to your own, as well as how it serves the organization’s mission, you’ll develop a feeling of being truly connected with co-workers. You also can gain a greater sense of the challenges they might face in terms of deadlines and workload, and discover ways you can continue to support one another, coordinate your work with each other, and provide support that can continue to raise team morale.

Collaboration builds professional experience and a varied body of work. Whether you are seeking to transition in your career, be considered for a promotion, or just expand your skill set, working with other departments is a great way to develop strengths in an area unrelated to your specific job description. Diversifying your skills and experience is always a plus, both for your professional development and also if you’re considering moving up (or moving on).

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If you’re looking for other ways you can make an impact on your organization from within, learn How to Become a Change Agent.

By Victoria Crispo

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