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Effective Strategies to Boost Cross-Team Collaboration

By Sienna Walker

September 20 2017 - Are you interested in leveraging cross-team collaboration at your organization?

That's a smart move.

Having experts from various teams and departments come together to solve a problem offers an opportunity for developing new perspectives, get deeper inside, and boost innovation.

Many companies bring people with different talents and expertise together to work toward achieving key organizational goals.

Why is cross-team collaboration so valuable?

Here are 5 good reasons:

  • It boosts innovation - employees working in different departments have different kinds of expertise, views, and ideas on a given project. When you look at a single product from a number of different perspectives, it will be easier to imagine possible problems and deliver better solutions.
  • It promotes learning - a cross-departmental collaboration allows employees who have different skills and expertise to share ideas with one another and help each other learn something new.
  • It challenges established ideas and methodologies - inviting various people to contribute to a single project, you create an environment where it is acceptable to question the norm. With fresh, open minds on board, you'll be able to identify potential mistakes and develop alternative approaches to a problem.
  • It helps to minimize possible delays.
  • It secures buy in, allows for empathy, and helps to create an environment characterized by trust.

To make sure that your cross-team collaboration works to your advantage, here are 5 tips to help you make that type of collaboration work in your next project.

1. Help team members connect

For your team to perform well, you need to make sure that its members are able to trust one another.

In order to form trusting relationships, they simply need to get to know one another. To help team members learn more about each other and connect, beginning the first meetings with an icebreaker question like "What is your favorite sports?" or "what is your hidden talent?".

You should also create a small file with all team profiles and pass it around during the first meeting. Every profile should include a picture of the person, their title, expertise, preferred method of contact, and a few personal details that make them more relatable - for instance, their favorite movie.

Use the power of gamification to break the ice. Playing fun games together encourages bonding, so if your team is dispersed, use video conferencing tools to include remote employees in the fun and play games such as charades, catchphrase, or office trivia. Face-to-face communication is important, so video conferencing software needs to be a solid element of your team collaboration.

2. Standardize your processes

You'd be surprised to learn how standard procedures and processes are important for cross-team collaboration. You will be dealing with employees coming from different backgrounds with different experiences, expectations, and ommunication habits.

That's why you need to create an environment that is consistent.

Establish a central repository where you will document meetings and store important files. Create some processes as well. For example: after every meeting, a document will be generated containing meeting notes. It will then be automatically emailed to every team member with directions about how to send in future ideas for the team.

That's how you improve your team's workflow and make sure that everyone is always on the same page.

3. Compose your team with diversity in mind

When creating a cross-departmental team, make sure to invite people who have completely different backgrounds and expertise. You should include factors such as their abilities, seniority, and level of skills, but also criteria such as age, tenure, location, and gender. Greater diversity promotes greater innovation, as well as better quality of discussions and improved productivity.

4. Invest in communication tools

Fostering collaboration between team members who come from different departments isn't easy. That's why you need solid communication tools to help everyone remain focused on team goals, keep up-to-date with the work of other people, and track progress between meetings.

Collaboration tools such as Asana or Trello will come in handy here. It's smart to use project management apps where everyone the team can see what others are up to, share updates, ask questions, and post messages. All these tools are customizable, so as a project leader you'll be able to control the level of access to sensitive information and many other elements.

Use Slack to create an environment that is always "on". That's how you support spontaneous collaboration that is critical for innovation. Make sure that remote employees remain connected to on-site team members through an accessible video portal or Slack conversation - a VPN is a good investment if your employees are on the move and might access your software from public WiFi.

5. Reward key project milestones

Once you've got your team in place and working, you will need to set goals for the project and create project timelines. For your team to gain momentum, you need to recognize major breakthroughs and reward them accordingly.

Treat your team to a lunch out or a sports event. That will help to not only develop stronger bonds through socialization, but also refresh the team working on your project.

Now that you know why cross team collaboration can bring use such benefits, you'll be able to implement these for strategies for creating and managing a team of diverse people who will bring your project to success.

About the author

Sienna Walker is a business blogger, writing on behalf of BizDb, and dedicated to sharing her knowledge with others, businesses and individuals alike. Sienna enjoys working with people, and her main interests lie in customer engagement and employee relations.

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