Melissa Abramson
AUTHOR: Melissa Abramson
Oct 30, 2019 - 6 min read

5 Proven Strategies to Improve Cross Team Collaboration

What is Cross Team Collaboration?

Cross-team collaborations have become very essential for most businesses today. It refers to a group of people from different areas of expertise working towards a common goal. This operational trend in many organizations is a centralized structure.  It assembles individuals from different departments and levels for a common progressive goal. It is basically the sharing of visions and innovative solutions amongst teams.

Many businesses have embraced cross-team collaborations for their benefits. Practicing organizations have accomplished more from their cross-collaborative team efforts. Bringing together experts of different skillsets increases teams’ creativity. It helps save decision-making time by eliminating unnecessary hierarchical practices. It provides the opportunity to utilize your company’s potentials for greater efficiency and success.

Unfortunately, not many organizations have been able to manage their cross-team collaborations. It leads to a phenomenon referred to as the ‘silo effect’.

What Is The Silo Effect?

The ‘silo effect’ is a business term describing a destructive tendency in an organization. Silos are those barriers that exist between departments, operational units and levels in an organization. It’s common to see these departments antagonize each other for reasons which ought not to exist. They may fight over budgets, control, headcount, and hoard useful information. Silos can get so intense that they can bring a company’s drive to a halt.  

A silo is, in fact, the direct opposite of a cross-team collaborative business environment. It is an unwanted occurrence that must be prevented. The only way to prevent this is to improve cross-team collaboration. Here are the five proven ways to achieve this. 

1. Selecting the Best Team 

It is common knowledge that crosses team collaborations are not always successful. In order to increase their potential for success, team members must be strategically selected. The structure of a cross-collaborative team is quite different from the traditional team. This team is often democratic with no hierarchical structure to rely on. Thus, it must be able to stand as a dauntless entity in the face of challenges.

It’s not enough to choose the highest performers in the different operational units. The highest performers are not always the most suitable. Choose team members with the best interpersonal skills to maintain healthy relationships. Employees with agility and drive for success are needed to overcome obstacles. These team members must also be the best team players in the block.

Perfect teams should consist of people with diverse skills, knowledge, and experience. Every department, level or operational unit should be represented. This will help minimize flaws in plans and ideas and improve the quality of the teams’ output.

2. Transparency 

Trust is the core value of successful team collaborations. Transparency is a critical element required for building trust. Silos bring distrust amongst teams and employees. Such team members often act in an unnecessary cautious manner. They are usually careful about what they share, reluctant to participate and highly reserved. 

Trust is built when employees are assured of the integrity of their associations and purpose. Employees should have a clear picture of their shared goals. They must realize the importance of making these relationships work. This will foster the willingness to participate and contribute positively.

There have to be ground rules for this relationship to work. The norms, issues relating to time, funds allocation and other resources must be clearly defined. Basically, everybody needs to know what ought to be to point out deviations. Such transparent modes of operations will make cross collaborations better.

3. Centralized communication Platform 

Traditional communication channels come with a lot of needless hierarchical and time-wasting barriers. Cross-functional teams need to have a means of direct communication. Most times different departments have their unique communication systems and processes. Therefore it may require setting up convenient channels that can accommodate all teams. 

Resources, information, and team interactions can be consolidated into one system. There should be a centralized portal where team members can access information anytime. There have to be chat apps for easy communication. File sharing should be possible with minimal limitations. Calendars are very vital for scheduling of meetings and clocks for time zones.

Video conferencing is a vital cross-collaboration element. It is often more productive than calls since it lets you see emotions and facial expressions. While setting up for communication improvement, time zones must be considered. Communications outside business hours must be made with caution and consideration.

4. Improve Employee Engagement 

People are more inclined to be responsive to collaborations when they feel a sense of responsibility. Often times, the presence of relationship complexes hinders effective collaborations. Every member of a cross-functional team is important and should be treated as such.

Member’s roles should be clearly defined so that everyone can feel important. Every member’s contributions should be entertained and analyzed properly. It is important to avoid by-passing people’s opinions on vital issues. By-passing employees give room for complex and make them unwilling to cooperate.

Conflicts and unresolved issues should be handled tactfully and without bias. The basic idea is to treat everyone equally so that they can participate willingly. 

5. Socialization Amongst Teams 

Good working relationships are the best way to enhance cross-team collaborations. Meetings and project sessions are way too formal for establishing relationships. How about creating mediums by which teams can interact on less formal notes?

Companies can organize social gatherings for relaxation and building of friendships. These may include tea parties or dinners and retreats. Major feats like project launches come with excitement and should be celebrated. Incentives always make employees happy and motivated. It may not go all the way sometimes; it can be as simple as toning down on the formal nature of meetings. 

These will develop friendly relations across teams and build trust and willingness to collaborate. It kills the harmful competitive spirit amongst teams. It is much more effective than working with a team of strangers.

Final thoughts 

The silo effect is an unwanted tendency that every organization needs to eliminate. Nurturing and improving cross-team collaborations is not always a high budget project. It simply requires making the collaboration process a great experience. This means giving your team the best environment and technology to collaborate efficiently.