Learning & Development

5 Tips to Improve Cross-Department Collaboration

There’s the nose-to-the-grindstone worker, the social butterfly, and the visionary. Every office has a mix of personalities, and getting along with everyone is not easy. Today, we have some tips for keeping your departmental teams working together in harmony.

In a press release from Robert Half® Finance & Accounting, a new survey revealed that 39% of chief financial officers (CFOs) say the greatest challenge for finance and accounting professionals—when working with those in other departments—is learning to interact with a variety of personalities.
“For functions such as accounting and finance that interact with a broad cross-section of business units, navigating disparate protocols and personalities can be tricky,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half. “The most successful and satisfied employees work well with just about everyone. Building relationships across departments ensures enhanced collaboration, smoother processes, and greater influence for practitioners.”

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McDonald added that showing mutual respect while working cooperatively is imperative. “Find ways to support each other, even if you don’t all agree,” he advised. “A little empathy can go a long way to promoting goodwill and fostering a positive work environment for everyone.”
Following are five tips to improve cross-department collaboration:

  1. Build bridges. The person you call out publicly in a budget meeting could be the one you need to sign off on an expense request next week. Instead of burning bridges, try to understand pressures your colleagues may be facing in their own jobs. This can give you greater insight into their approach and help you enhance rapport.
  2. Make sure everyone has a voice. Meet frequently with team members and be sure to ask less vocal colleagues for their opinions so everyone has a chance to chime in. Also get to know employees in various departments so it’s easier to work together in the future.
  3. Don’t put off the inevitable. Avoiding confrontation doesn’t address the root of a problem or help to foster collaboration. Take the time to peacefully resolve work conflicts, and listen as much as you talk during these conversations.

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  1. Skip the silo mentality. Companies that readily share information across departments tend to see greater efficiencies and higher staff morale. Providing others with insight into processes also helps them understand the time or resources needed for various cross-department initiatives.
  2. Put yourself out there. Spend time outside the office with colleagues to strengthen relationships at work. Chat at company gatherings or invite coworkers from other departments to lunch to get to know them better.

For additional commentary on why successful cross-departmental collaboration is so critical for accounting and finance teams, read McDonald’s latest blog post.
The survey was developed by Robert Half Finance & Accounting, a firm specializing in financial recruitment service. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 2,200 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.

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