Strategic changes within your organization are necessary to improve communication and collaboration among cross-functional teams. Here are some best practices to help you get there.
My flatmate and I had an argument the other day. We were both overworked and blamed one another for not sharing the house’s responsibilities. We didn’t keep our egos under control or tried to solve the problem. We just stopped communicating.
We both bought supplies for our shared kitchen and decided to fix the problem without coordination. We ended up spending more money than we needed, bought more items, and disrupted our monthly budget.
Businesses are the same. If you have a common goal for your business and cross-functional teams to achieve it, each team must work together and use their individual skills to achieve the goal.
However, if cross-functional teams don’t interact, have conflict or don’t trust one another, it can lead, among other things, to mismanaged projects and poor outcomes.
How do you achieve this? To foster healthy collaboration and cross-functional communication among your team members, you can follow these best practices.
5 cross-functional communication best practice to increase collaboration
It is important to recognize that communication and collaboration between cross-functional teams requires effort from both the employees and the managers. These best practices will help you make changes at both the employee and organizational levels.
1. To facilitate communication, create a framework
You can’t expect smooth communication and project delivery without a framework.
You will need the following to create a communication structure for cross-functional teams:
To align all team members with these elements, you will need to hold project kickoff meetings. This will help to avoid potential conflicts caused by a lack of clarity. It will help you to communicate clearly and motivate your team members. This will allow for smoother communication and coordination.
2. To increase transparency, offer engagement forums
Lack of understanding between teams and their priorities and roles is one of the main reasons for cross-functional communication and collaboration. There is also the ignorance about the skills available to different teams.
You might consider holding interdepartmental introductions and inviting managers from different teams. Each team can talk briefly and informally about their current and future projects, departmental goals, available skills, and other matters. This will allow them to find commonalities, identify collaboration possibilities, and eliminate inefficiencies between departments.
Gartner provides a report that discusses an example such collaboration between the HR department (full report available for Gartner clients only). According to the report, while communication leaders and HR understand each others’ roles, they don’t always understand each other’s goals.
It is therefore a good idea for department heads to sit down and map the overlap between KPIs, and brainstorm ways to work together in achieving their respective KPIs.
3. For those who are in conflict, it is important to learn how to manage them.
Multifunctional and cross-functional teams are complex and often structurally diverse. This makes them more susceptible to conflict. These teams are most likely to encounter intergroup and interpersonal conflicts.
Interpersonal conflicts occur when two people disagree with each other and fail to resolve their differences peacefully or positively. Intergroup conflicts are when two groups or teams disagree with each other regarding their goals and objectives.
However, conflicts arising from differences o