9 Crucial Strategies to Boost Cross Team Collaboration
The bedrock of any successful business, organization, or project is team collaboration. Collaboration among your employees improves their performance and productivity. They feel motivated to work towards the goals of the organization.
However, despite the mouthwatering benefits of team collaboration, many managers and business owners do not prioritize it. Lack of team collaboration is responsible for many of the failures a business encounters.
Running a cross-functional team collaboration helps you benefit from the diverse skills and experiences of your workforce. Team collaboration is also crucial for leading and managing remote teams.
The reason why many businesses do not have a cross-functional team collaboration environment is that it is a difficult feat to achieve. Installing a culture of team collaboration in your company’s ethos requires concerted effort.
By using the right strategies, you can boost cross-team collaboration, improve group dynamics, and create a productive team atmosphere where everyone can freely communicate and work together to achieve the goals of the organization.
These cross-team collaboration strategies can range from choosing the right online tools to rewarding cross-functional collaboration.
Let’s get started.
What is Cross-Team Collaboration?
Cross-team collaboration or cross-functional team collaboration is generally the coming together of a group of individuals with different skill sets to work together on a common project.
Defining the term in the context of business enterprises or companies, cross-team collaboration entails where different individuals from different departments within a company come together to work on a project. These are individuals from your company’s sales, marketing, IT, and human resource department, among others, forming a team defined by a dynamic set of skills.
From the above definitions, the main goal or implication of cross-team collaborations is clear. Having only one department within your company or individuals with the same skillset working on a project does not give you the most comprehensive knowledge base to work with.
What happens when you only use your marketing team to take care of full campaigns and they face difficulty with the online tool used or need to provide customer service for leads? This is what cross-team collaboration is all about; a dynamic team working together to successfully achieve a common goal or get past hurdles on a project.
Why Cross-Team Collaboration Can Make or Break Your Business
Cross-team collaboration proves to be a highly crucial element of effectively running your business, especially when it comes to employee satisfaction and productivity. According to Salesforce, 86% of employees and execute think poor team collaboration causes failure in the workspace.
The importance of collaboration, and effective collaboration at that, is therefore established. However, there are more statistics from Goremotely’s surveys that show how much impact cross-team collaborations have in improving project success or badly affecting it.
- Communication proves to be the most important skill for employees, with collaboration additionally placed in the top four skills every employee should have.
- A fully operational communication system gives a company a 450% chance of holding on to its best employees.
- 63% of American workers have an intention to quit their jobs because of poor communication at their workspaces.
- Well-connected teams across different departments help increase profitability by over 21%.
- Incorporating online collaboration tools and digital workplaces into this team environment additionally increases team productivity by up to 30%.
- Interconnected workspaces through collaborative tools reduce costs on leases by up to 40%.
All these statistics and many others show why communication, collaboration, and cross-functional collaboration affect the productivity of employees and, ultimately, the success of businesses in achieving their desired goals.
Critical Strategies to Boost Cross-Team Collaboration
If you struggle with establishing cross-team collaboration in your business or organization, here are 9 critical cross-team collaboration strategies to help you get the most out of your employees.
1. Choose the Right Team and Assign Clear Responsibilities
The first step in creating a cross-functional team is choosing the right individuals to make it up and engage in these collaborations. In doing this, certain tips and steps have to be followed.
a. You Identify The Skills Needed
Just like in any other business process, you first identify what you need before determining how you satisfy your needs. Cross-team collaborations are aimed towards making projects successful, with these projects having specific descriptions.
To create a team for these projects, you first determine the right skills required to take care of it, which could be related to sales, finance, development, or/and IT, among others.
b. Select Individuals With The Right Personalities
Cross-team collaborations vividly rely on seamless teamwork to be as effective as it is pitched for your project success. The effectiveness of teamwork between team members relies heavily on the different traits that define their personalities and how much these different personalities are compatible with each other.
In selecting great personalities, looking out for these traits proves vital.
- Strong Communication: Picking individuals who show they are strong communicators ensures that there are no drawbacks when certain important topics need to be discussed. They are not only always ready to share information but have the very rare but important listening skills to understand other people’s perspectives.
- Dynamic Knowledge Base: This refers to individuals who show a considerable level of understanding of not just their skill set but every other skill set needed for the project. This level of understanding does not have to be comprehensive. Having these team members makes collaborations more seamless through better understanding. This remains important given what cross-functional team collaboration is all about.
- Independent Decision Making: Individuals with this trait do not have to wait for other team members to have a mind of their own. Even though the whole concept of cross-team collaboration goes against individuality, having a team filled with individuals with this strong personality trait ensures multiple solutions are brought up in case of situations that are hard to maneuver. One other tip while choosing your team members includes choosing individuals with shared skills.
Once you select team members that fit these criteria, you then define their role in the whole project management framework. Roles are definitely defined or determined by the skill set possessed by each individual or the department from which this individual was gotten. This is one rule that cannot be missed.
2. Select the Right Leader
Bringing individuals from multiple departments or with multiple training means having a team made up of individuals with different ideologies on how to do things. Undoubtedly, there is bound to be some clashes in these ideologies or between these individuals and this greatly affects the accomplishment of project goals.
You need someone to authoritatively centralize these ideologies and make decisions where there are stalemates, and this is where a team leader comes in.
A cross-team leader delegates tasks to team members. He or she educates members of the team on important topics, sets the level of autonomy every team member has over areas of the project and monitors the entire project’s progress.
Nonetheless, a team leader is expected to possess certain leadership qualities that ensure you have the right person at the helm of affairs. What are these characteristics?
a. Great Communication Skills
Communication is the first and most important component of your cross-functional team collaboration, so anyone you intend to place at the top of your team is needed to be excellent at this. Your team leader should show great skills in face-to-face interactions and maintain a steady and healthy line of communication with all team members.
Given how much your team has to deal with in successfully seeing a project through, the individual selected to lead it has to show great organization skills. He or she can organize your entire team, deadlines, files, notes, data, research, and every other crucial element of your project.
A team leader is expected to show an infallible understanding of what the project entails as well as the personalities of the team members that make up the cross-functional team. He or she should understand every aspect of the project and be able to make all team members understand each other's perspectives.
Some other characteristics and skills to look out for include clarity in passing information, attention to each individual, and conflict resolution skills, which prove to be very important in keeping the team together.
3. Align Project Goals and Make Them Visible For Everybody
Consider this hypothetical situation. You have multiple individuals working on a project and, while John thinks the objective is to increase sales revenue by 10% within 2 months, David thinks the goal is to only convert all existing leads to sales without any identified performance threshold.
What happens then? You see these individuals pitching ideas that do not agree with each other or even the actual project goal, if it is not any of these. Conflicts arise and you have a whole lot to deal with.
Looking at these, it is therefore important to align project goals, have every single member of the team understand what the project is driving at as well as all the individual and collective goals within the project framework.
At very regular intervals, important goals are discussed before work on the project begins and also reiterated during the project in case project goals change. This helps to keep all team members focused on the right things at the same time and keep them productive.
In keeping your project aligned, there are a few things to keep in mind and implement:
- You extensively describe what the purpose of the project is and how it relates to the entire organizational objectives.
- While keeping your team as minimalistic as possible, you engage in proper personality and skills matching while grouping them.
- You concur on the methodologies and workflows you intend the project to be executed by.
- Everyone is made to know the number of dependencies, as well as the expectations on tasks assigned to them from the onset. This involves presenting them with Key Performance Indicators (KPI) against which their performance is to be measured.
- All project goals, requirements, and resources are made readily and easily available to every team member, so they have access to the information they need.
- You decide on who is responsible for mico-decision-making processes so that avoidable conflicts do not arise.
- Transparency is maintained throughout the project, so all team members spot where another’s activities are not aligning with set expectations and call this individual to place. This is achievable through real-time reporting tools. Web-based project management tools prove to be very useful for this.
4. Set a Clear Time for the Project
Establishing the timeline for your project saves you from a lot of unfortunate and unwanted developments in the later parts of executing it. Where this project does not serve as the only one intended to be worked upon by your selected cross-team members, creating a project timeline becomes even more important.
Having every member of your cross-functional team know how long they have in performing on their deliverables does not just help them create effective schedules but helps them make decisions on whether to even take up the project from the onset. They get to decide whether their existing schedule is compatible with the scheduling requirements brought about by the new project.
Setting your project timeline helps prevent delays in project deliverables as well as the frustration of the entire project. You estimate the time it takes to finish the whole project as well as different phases and assignable tasks within it. Thankfully, there are steps you could follow in achieving this.
a. Create Your Project Scope Statement
The first step in creating your project timeline is to determine the scope of your project. Your project scope statement identifies the boundaries to achieving your project goals as well as the deliverables within it.
b. Establish Your Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
Your work breakdown structure, sometimes called a project breakdown structure, is where the phases within your project are determined.
For instance, where you intend to build a house, the phases in this project could be planning, foundation, walls, roofing, utilities, and finishing. These are the larger project phases from which the smaller tasks are defined.
c. Identify Your Tasks
Having established your Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), identifying the tasks within each project phase becomes easier. You create a to-do list including tasks for each phase.
Identifying tasks helps you know how long it takes to complete each task, as well as the dependencies on each. You know if two tasks are possibly executed simultaneously and the tasks that could only be started only after one or more tasks are completed.
Making use of agile project management software ensures that you have the right tools to efficiently track your complex system or framework of dependencies.
d. Determine The Total Duration For Each Task
Now, you go back to each task and determine how long it takes to complete each of them. The duration of these tasks is determined without taking any form of interruptions or appetite for delays into consideration. Experts could be hired where determining task duration proves difficult.
e. Measure Your Available Time Resources
This step does not contribute to determining how long your project takes to complete but it is crucial in creating an effective timeline that you use to track and regulate the activities of team members. You take the schedule of each team member, determine their availability (available time resources), and create a general schedule or calendar optimized with this information.
f. Define Milestones
Milestones are the elements of your project with which you track the performance of different team members.
g. Establish Your Project Management Timeline
Now, this is where all steps you have gone through come together. You take each task, dependency, task duration, team member availability, and milestone into consideration and create a timeline combining all these.
Your project management timeline is set to be used to manage collaborations between cross-team members and prevent any form of clashes or delays in project delivery. Some tips to take note of, however, include determining the start and end date of the entire project before anything else and making use of color-coding to easily track your timeline through visual project management software.
5. Improve Communication and Management Skills Across the Organization
Communication is the major key element that determines the feasibility and overall success of cross-team collaborations. This skill affects interpersonal relationships between team members.
Managing your communications properly helps you reduce chances for conflict, achieve better client relationships, and improve the overall productivity of your team.
Given the importance of communication to the success of cross-team collaborations, improving the communication skills of team members becomes crucial. One way to do this is to get your team engaged in communication training, which means having them take up courses dedicated to improving their communication skills.
These courses do not just cover the conversational aspect of your team collaborations but also take care of their presentation skills, professional writing skills, and managerial skills training. Although these courses may be costly, you need the value they add to your team.
Other ways of improving your cross-team communication skills include having an open-door policy and organizing games between team members to establish and improve cordial relationships.
6. Provide Employees with the Right Collaboration Tools
Now, we have gotten to a very important part of your cross-team collaborations that cannot be ignored or done away with; the use of software to facilitate your collaborations.
There are a lot of dedicated programs out there that help you communicate effectively, but mere communication is not enough for effective collaborations. You need mediums that do not just allow you to chat but also allow you to seamlessly share all important information and documents and also manage important elements of your project.
Also, you need mediums through which you maintain communication levels very close to realism. This is where project management and video conferencing software programs come in.
Project Management Software
Project management software lets you manage your communications, collaborations, and project workflows on one centralized platform.
When selecting one for your cross-team collaborations, you have to select a program that gives you great collaboration features and offers you good value for money. Some of the best programs on the internet that prove to be worth it include:
Monday.com is a work management software trusted by Hulu, Coca-Cola, NBC, and Adobe, among 125,000 other companies. This project management software provides you with a comprehensive collection of solutions to effectively manage your project.
- Views With Centralized Dashboards: With Monday.com, you also enjoy centralized dashboards through which all team members have access to the activities of other team members. They also have access to conversations between team members and options to share information and documents.
- Extensive Integrations: Given how important centralizing different platforms is to satisfying different team members coming from different fields, Monday.com’s great offering of high-quality integrations with external applications proves vital. These integrations range from email marketing tools like MailChimp to CRM tools like Salesforce.
Trusted by over 200,000 teams worldwide, including Webflow and IBM, ClickUp is a project and task management platform that equips you with the right collaboration tools and solutions to connect your team.
- Quality Chat and Commenting Options: Alongside comprehensive workspaces to track the activities and progress of team members, ClickUp also provides you with a flexible communication platform. Through this, team members add comments to projects, tag other team members to these comments, chat in real-time, share attachments, and assign actions to themselves on the same hub.
- Team collaboration: ClickUp offers you several collaboration tools such as 2-way calendar sync, real-time editing, comments, list details and discussions, and many more.
Wrike is a project management platform serving top companies like Dell, Google, and Okta. This project management tool is dedicated to empowering you with complete visibility, cross-departmental collaboration tools, and automation.
- Collaborations And Tracking: Wrike comes with real-time commenting and notifications, live editing, and dynamic reports to greatly improve your team interactions and communications. Team members also have access to a dashboard through which they see individual tasks as well as the entire project portfolio in one view.
- Integrations: Just like Monday.com, Wrike also offers high-quality integrations to streamline and centralize project workflows among team members. Integrated platforms include Slack, Salesforce, Google Calendar, SAP, and Google Drive, among others.
Trusted by PayPal, Netflix, Disney, and Spotify, Teamwork is a project management platform that offers highly affordable real-time collaboration features to manage your team collaborations.
- Real-Time Collaboration: Alongside high-quality integrations like its counterparts previously mentioned, Teamwork equips you with an array of real-time collaboration features that facilitate communication between team members. These features ensure your team has transparency, as everyone sees what every other person is doing, flexibility through customizable workflows, and simplicity through centralized communication hubs.
- Add-ons for Extra Features: Teamwork offers extra features as add-ons such as CRM, Desk, Chat, and Spaces for effective cross-team collaboration.
Scoro is an award-winning end-to-end work management software that proffers solutions for cost management and utilization solutions alongside project management and collaborations.
- Configurable Integrations: You streamline and centralize all team members’ workflows through a comprehensive list of integrated software programs, which includes accounting software and file-sharing and cloud storage software tools, among over 1,000 others.
- Time And Cost Tracking: Scoro offers you time and cost tracking options, as everyone gets a detailed view of all team members’ expected and completed activities, time spent, income, and expense. This helps your cross-functional team make decisions as the project goes on.
Founded in 2005, Smartsheet is a project management platform that equips you with comprehensive task and portfolio management solutions.
- Task And Resource Management: The project management platform does not just allow team members to track the progress of others but also helps them monitor resource usage and allocate resources as needs are
- Integrations: Through Smartsheet’s open API, you get to integrate with other tools like Jira, Microsoft, and Salesforce so all team members have appropriate tools to take care of their responsibilities on the same platform.
Video Conferencing Software
Video conferencing is one of the best ways of maintaining communication between your team members. Multiple team members engage in meetings, see face-to-face, and get the full context of conversations that would not have been possible while being remotely located.
Although there are a lot of cheap video conferencing software tools on the internet, even free ones, you do not get the best service for your business except you choose the best of them that typically do not come cheap.
Thankfully, we have all the information you need to know about the best video conferencing software programs on the internet that give you the best value for money while you maintain efficient business communications. Some of the best video conferencing software include RingCentral Meetings, Zoom, UberConference, Lifesize, Whereby, Livestorm, ClickMeeting, and Zoho Meeting.
7. Organize Individual Tasks
Cross-team collaboration is all about teamwork, however, there is still a need for tasks to be individually assigned to team members. Not all tasks are better executed through joint team efforts and this is where picking team members with independent decision-making skills come in handy.
You recognize the individual strength of each team member and assign tasks to them appropriately. Having multiple competent individuals in the same team and getting them to take up certain individual tasks helps you save time that could have been possibly wasted on team efforts.
Also, make sure that you create transparent roles for each individual, so everyone knows they do not take up more work than others.
8. Reward Cross-Functional Collaboration
Rewarding your cross-functional team for effective collaboration and excellent work done either makes them feel appreciated or strive for more rewards of that kind. Either way, you win.
Employee satisfaction is a great strategy for improving business performance and one way of making yours happy is appreciating their work through rewards.
Rewards typically come as pay bonuses, but could also be mere recognition for performance just like identifying them as the employees or team of the month. No matter what you choose to do, you are assured that rewarding effective cross-team collaborations sends a strong message and makes employees strive to either do more or maintain their level of competency.
9. Encourage Honest Feedback
Your cross-functional team environment is required to be conducive enough for effective collaborations among members. One way of maintaining this conducive environment is establishing among team members honest feedback in the form of constructive criticism.
However, in giving out this constructive feedback, your team members are implored to be unprovocative, respectful, clear, and explanatory enough so other individuals learn from it. Everyone accepts criticism and where there are individuals that seem introverted, you call them to give their honest opinions on issues being discussed.