We all are aware that working in silos can slow down or significantly hinder a company’s progress towards their strategic plan. If teams are able to effectively collaborate by sharing resources and working together to achieve goals, the rate of progress is accelerated. For dietitians, who are still relatively new in the retail environment, internal collaboration is especially important to help you gain a holistic view of the organization and provide you an opportunity to educate co-workers on the skills and value you possess to drive company success. Learning what other departments do and working with them on collaborative projects can also help you develop new competences and a deeper understanding of key departments which could assist with future promotion opportunities.
Consider these strategies for successful internal collaboration:
- Show how you complement the needs of multiple departments. Communicate how the projects you work on benefit the goals other departments. For example, your educational selling techniques can help drive sales on a new line of better-for-you products; your nutrition and culinary skills can assist with the development of healthier prepared foods and meal kits; and your ability to create credible marketing messages can increase basket size.
- Ask questions, advice and share ideas. When each department shares their goals and how they work to achieve them, you have the opportunity to look at your work from another perspective. What questions do others have about your role and what can you clarify about their work? What advice can you share with each other, and how might that help you discover ways to work better together?
- Communicate directly to other departments. If there is a particular department you’d like to work with, or learn more about, reach out to leadership directly and schedule a brief meeting, coffee break or lunch. Talk about your role and discuss ways to work collaboratively. Perhaps you can provide a presentation to the department, followed by a discussion on beneficial ways to partner.
- Find out about the challenges and obstacles of other departments. Don't always assume that the reason a department doesn’t work with you is personal. Departmental challenges, busy schedules and a simple lack of understanding your role may be the issue. Offer your services to help them meet goals and overcome obstacles, and they’ll see you as an asset for more collaboration.
- Consider collaboration as professional development. Working with another team can give you new skills and a fresh perspective. You can simultaneously help serve your organization’s mission and your own need for professional development. Try to find a project with another department that is complementary to your “typical” work but different enough to give you new insights and vision into how that department serves the company’s mission.
When you work across departments and learn each one’s motivations and how it relates to the whole organization, you gain a feeling of comradery among you and your coworkers while helping yourself grow and possibly advance in your career.