- Why Is Cross-Team Collaboration Important for Large Organizations
- The Pillars of Effective Cross-Team Collaboration
- The Multifaceted Benefits of Cross-Team Collaboration
- Overcoming Challenges With Cross-Team Collaboration Activities
- Cross-Team Collaboration Best Practices
- The Road Ahead for Cross-Team Collaboration
- The Road Ahead for Cross-Team Collaboration
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What Is Cross-Team Collaboration & Why It Is Important
For businesses to experience success with strategic goals, there must be alignment between different departments. Siloed work is a common occurrence, especially in today’s business environment, which is populated by increasing hybrid and remote work situations.
The solution to this dilemma is cross-team collaboration. This happens when the various departments come together to solve challenges and achieve objectives. Effective cross-functional teams lead to greater innovation and growth, but the wrong approach can rob a business from reaping these benefits. This guide discusses the core aspects and advantages of this business strategy, as well as steps for implementing successful creative collaboration.
Why Is Cross-Team Collaboration Important for Large Organizations
Across industries, business teams value cross-team collaboration. One study finds that approximately 75% of employees say teamwork matters and that stronger workplace communication and collaboration contribute to a 50% reduction in employee turnover.
Why do so many professionals want collaboration? It’s about seeing the bigger picture. When departments operate separately, team members don’t understand the role other departments play. When decisions are made affecting multiple departments or the whole company, miscommunication, misalignment, and a lack of knowledge can create frustration.
A common example is between the marketing and sales teams. Marketers are responsible for providing sales reps with leads, but if marketing managers don’t consult sales managers on the kinds of leads they hope to generate, the leads may not become customers. This lack of alignment can turn into finger-pointing about who’s to blame.
Cross-team collaboration — also called cross-functional collaboration — occurs when personnel from different teams and with diverse skill sets come together and work toward a shared goal. While cross-team collaboration may be leveraged for specific initiatives, the main purpose is to remove silos that prevent departments from interacting with each other.
Although businesses of any size can benefit from cross-functional team collaboration, it’s especially helpful for large organizations, where team members may not even know about the activities of personnel within their department, let alone others. Ultimately, cross-team collaboration has a lasting positive effect on the company, enhancing efficiency, flexibility, and innovation.
The Pillars of Effective Cross-Team Collaboration
The approach to cross-team collaboration differs depending on the structure and goals of the business. In other words, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. However, all organizations that maintain effective collaboration share some attributes. These include:
Assigning Clear Team Responsibilities
Cross-team collaboration is only possible if all teams have specific responsibilities. A team leader helps supervise efforts and ensures all team members are aware of their duties. Responsibilities and other guidelines for teams should be easy to follow to promote compliance.
Businesses also want to make sure team members feel they have a voice in decision-making while realizing that certain aspects are best left to other teams. For this reason, a collaborative yet decentralized approach is often best for project management. It provides employees with a greater sense of ownership over their responsibilities.
Leveraging Brand Asset Management for Collaboration
From logos to audio files to fonts and color palettes — businesses have many assets that allow them to create a distinct brand. The problem is that personnel in different departments may not always use the most updated brand assets or are unaware of the guidelines set forth by the marketing team.
A brand asset management (BAM) system provides a single location from which all teams access brand assets. Marketing managers ensure the most updated versions are stored on BAM platforms so employees from all teams utilize the right visual elements. This concentrates control over brand imagery to the marketing department that develops them without requiring other teams to constantly ask for approval before using assets.
Unifying Communication and Documentation
With various communication channels to consider, team leaders need to determine which personnel most use and for what kinds of messages. For instance, apps like Slack may be the preferred team communication method for quick questions or comments, but email is the approach for official messages.
Communicating with every employee via their preferred channel may not be plausible, but getting to know how team members converse helps leaders create communication norms. This way, even if an employee must use an app they are less comfortable with, they at least have a basis for how they should interact with others on their team and across departments.
Empowering Teams With Necessary Resources
Cross-functional projects will only be successful if teams have the resources they need to execute them. Business leaders should account for brainstorming, as well. It’s rare for cross-team collaboration to produce positive results immediately. Therefore, teams need the space to experiment with their ideas. Although it takes more time and may even require a bigger investment, it can uncover the best solution to a problem.
The Multifaceted Benefits of Cross-Team Collaboration
What compels so many organizations to invest time and resources into cross-functional team collaboration? The following benefits prove it’s worth the effort:
- Business agility: Organizations become more dynamic and are less bogged down by intra-departmental dependencies.
- Employee engagement: More teamwork and understanding of overarching goals can strengthen morale, which boosts engagement and productivity.
- Skills development: Collaborative work means employees are exposed to expertise from other departments, which increases their knowledge and competency.
- Alignment: Cross-functional collaboration ensures all personnel understand how their responsibilities on team projects support strategic objectives.
- Innovation: Working in silos prevents employees from interacting with team members who have a different perspective on the company’s goals. Cross-team collaboration fosters innovative problem-solving where teams learn from each other.
- Communication: Bringing together a diverse group of people with different capabilities means deepening communication skills.
- Talent retention: Since cross-team collaboration enhances employee engagement, companies can more easily retain talented personnel.
- Customer satisfaction: With all departments working toward common goals, the business is more likely to meet objectives and satisfy customers and other stakeholders.
Overcoming Challenges With Cross-Team Collaboration Activities
Given the benefits of cross-functional teams, businesses may be eager to get started. However, cross-team collaboration is an ongoing process that organizations work to perfect over time. Challenges are common at first. A study from Harvard Business Review finds that 75% of cross-functional teams are dysfunctional.
Understanding the challenges a company may face with cross-functional teams is the first step to improving cross-team collaboration. Two major obstacles include:
Interpersonal and Inter-Departmental Conflicts
The primary concern with collaboration is personnel butting heads. It’s idealistic to think everyone will immediately agree on the best approach to solving a problem. Some employees may be hesitant about working with a new team, while others are stuck in their ways and don’t see the need for collaboration.
To cultivate meaningful collaboration, team leaders need to build trust. Start with icebreaker activities and begin gradually with smaller projects before moving on to more in-depth initiatives. Above all, make sure all team members understand the company’s goals and how their cross-functional team supports them. An initial team meeting to discuss these aspects gives employees a source to consult when disagreements arise. Ultimately, whatever best supports the overall mission is the best decision.
Cross-Functional Collaboration on Remote Teams
Cross-functional teams may seem implausible with remote work, but remote work situations compound the need for collaboration. Employees are more likely to operate in silos working in different locations and sometimes different time zones. Cross-team collaboration tools are essential to enhance internal communications, streamline workflows, and increase productivity.
The problem is that remote teams are more challenging to gather together. Team leaders can solve this issue by utilizing technologies to support remote cross-team collaboration, such as video conferencing tools like Zoom and project management software like Asana. Other steps for collaborating effectively in remote workspaces include:
- Establish predictable schedules
- Ensure technological needs are met
- Develop, share, and monitor performance standards
Cross-Team Collaboration Best Practices
When it comes time to implement cross-team collaboration, you want to ensure teams are prepared for potential challenges and leaders account for their team’s distinct needs. The following best practices will help your organization make the most of cross-functional team collaboration:
- Establish clear and specific goals
- Create a team charter to share objectives
- Set metrics for measuring success with projects
- Welcome feedback from team members
- Facilitate cross-training and team-building
- Determine team communication channels
- Ensure team leaders have the proper support
- Acknowledge successes and reward team members for their efforts
The Road Ahead for Cross-Team Collaboration
In today’s rapidly changing business environment, the need for cross-team collaboration will only grow. To experience greater innovation, efficiency, and growth, companies must consider cross-functional collaboration.
Beginning with cross-team collaboration can be overwhelming, but organizations have a range of tools at their disposal to facilitate a smooth and successful implementation. A valuable resource for cross-functional teams is distributed marketing and brand management software like MarcomCentral.
Our brand management portal provides a single digital location for managing brand assets, helping ensure compliance with brand standards and simplifying customization.
Contact us today to learn more about MarcomCentral or to request a demo.