Cross-functional team collaboration is a key factor to grow and scale a business successfully. It drives continuous improvement within the organization, enables agility and creative problem solving, and also reduces costs. Most importantly it keeps everyone aligned with the organizational goals.
However, when teams work cross-functions, there is added complexity in dealing with people who are not from your team. There is often a conflict in ways of working and levels of knowledge which tests the limits of standard collaboration processes and tools used within the team.
So how do you improve collaboration between cross-functional teams? Read on as we take you through some ways that organizations can follow on the subject. But before that let us understand what is cross team collaboration.
What is cross-functional team collaboration?
Businesses have several isolated teams but when they are introduced to the possibility of cross-functional collaboration, they can share important resources, contribute to each other’s success and thereby solve even the most difficult business issues.
Cross-functional team collaboration is a management technique to cover the gap across sales, marketing, product, human resource, finance, and engineering teams. This could apply to different functional areas as well as within individual sub-functions that may not collaborate robustly.
Why is it important?
If an organization wants to grow and make fundamental changes in its business, then they need to take on larger, cross-departmental projects. However, to ensure successful completion, the teams must speak the same language and work well together.
Organizations that invest in streamlining their processes and prioritize cross-function collaboration can reap many benefits, such as-
- Faster time-to-market
- Effective process output
- Employee satisfaction and engagement
- Customer satisfaction
- Nurturing team spirits
- Higher quality deliverables
- Less friction among teams
- Employee satisfaction and engagement
Ways to improve cross-functional team collaboration
Here are a few ways that can help organizations establish a truly collaborative environment.
Establish a collaborative environment
Collaboration between cross teams is about setting an environment in which teamwork is valued and rewarded. Through collaboration, employees can take advantage of the organization collective knowledge-base, thus benefiting from the pool of expertise. This allows businesses to avoid work overlapping while improving problem-solving and innovation.
Provide visibility and context for the long-term company vision
Employees feel more engaged when they are aware of common goals and how they fit into the big picture. When there is a possibility for a shared win in a bigger project, there is a significant rise in the chance of success. However, cross-functional collaboration efforts can fail if the company doesn’t have a long-term objective to guide the teams forward. Once a company has all-encompassing vision, every team can begin creating their own strategies of how to support in the best possible manner, including the product road map, growth plan, and so on.
Different teams often use a variety of tools to get their work completed. This can certainly hinder real collaboration. By consolidating the tech tools and getting everyone to use the same ones, the organization improve communication and streamline logistics and the allocation of resources.
Creating purposeful cross-team projects to nurture belonging
To improve collaboration between cross-functional teams, organizations should put forward purposeful projects with shared goals to motivate all stakeholders. If the teams understand why projects are important and how the results will benefit each team as well as the company, they will likely work together effectively. However, to ensure this, the company needs to make sure that the teams communicate effectively. Also, the organization has to give the teams enough independence to make critical decisions and follow through with them.
Selecting the right team members
Organizations are finding it more difficult to differentiate themselves from the competition. Those towing ahead have understood that putting the right people in the right jobs creates an opportunity that would not exist otherwise. Collaboration works well when teams have complementary skills sets required to finish the project.
Increasing transparency and removing information silos
If the teams have strategic alignment and they are aware of what broader projects they are working on, teams become more motivated and open to collaboration. Things may not work out well if each team uses private communication channels, doesn’t communicate priorities until urgent, or use different tools. Therefore, for better cross-functional collaboration, companies need to help teams see how work happens and ensure that information flows freely.
To sum up, cross-functional team collaboration takes effort and time, but it’s full of rewards. Teams that make collaboration a priority can help pave the way for a smoother integration of new systems and processes.