10 Ways Of Improving Cross Team Collaboration

Improving Cross Team Collaboration

What is cross-team collaboration? Cross-team collaboration, or cross-functional collaboration between teams, enables better results in cross-company initiatives. These cross-team collaborations are made possible by individuals within the organization willing to adapt their role to operate outside of the bounds of their functional team. 

The Benefits Of Cross Team Collaboration Include:

“Cross-functional collaboration can be used to cross organizational boundaries, cross-functional barriers, cross-departmental barriers, cross-company boundaries or cross geographical locations.

There are many different ways to define cross-team collaboration because there are various forms it takes. The effectiveness of cross team collaboration is measured by the positive impact it has on organizational performance.”.

We should implement cross-team collaborations in our business for unlocking the potential that individuals don’t see themselves and also achieve better results with fewer resources. 

Here Are 10 Tips For Improving Cross-Team Collaboration:


1. Start small to build understanding between teams

When trying to improve cross-team collaboration, look to start small with an initial pilot initiative rather than diving straight into a major project involving multiple teams. Picking something small like cross-functional teams (teams with cross-business unit membership who are given responsibility for a specific senior management mandate) or cross-project workgroups (teams assigned to deliver one project but with cross-departmental participation) will help you to lay the groundwork for future initiatives.

2. Validate cross-team collaboration within the company culture

Validate cross-team collaboration in your organization by checking the pulse of your employees. Ask them directly what they think about cross-team collaborations and whether or not there is enough transparency across teams, processes, and decision making? Also, determine if there are any roadblocks getting in their way when it comes to cross-team collaborations such as unclear accountabilities conflicting incentives, lack of information access, and unclear cross-team decision-making processes.

3. Create cross-team collaboration guidelines, policies, and procedures

If cross-team collaborations are critical to your company’s success then you must set specific cross-team collaboration goals, develop cross-team collaboration policies, create cross-team standards for decision-making processes, establish cross-departmental roles and accountabilities, identify incentives for effective cross-team collaboration across all departments.

It’s also important to create standard metrics for measuring cross-team collaboration so that you can monitor the effectiveness of cross-team collaborations moving forward.

4. Build a cross-functional leadership team consisting of CEOs (Chief Engagement Officers)

I recently wrote an article on Chief Engagement Officer that is worth checking out if you are looking for cross-team collaboration.  I also included some thoughts on cross-functional leadership teams.

5. Track cross-team collaboration metrics for all departments

It’s important to have cross-team collaboration metrics across the board since some are more collaborative than others.  That being said, let them know how their cross-collaboration is working so that they can understand what areas of improvement need to be addressed first.

6. Create cross-functional training opportunities for all managers and employees      

Create cross-training opportunities throughout the year for your managers and employees so that everyone can better understand each other’s culture, processes, etc which will allow you to better collaborate together as a whole unit rather than departmentalized silos..  This will improve cross-collaboration by having a better understanding of each other’s job functions resulting in more cross-training opportunities with cross-functional teams.

7. Implement cross-departmental projects      

If it makes sense for your business, cross-department projects can be a great way to increase cross-collaboration between different departments within the organization.  As stated before, this is not always possible or necessary but if there are two or three different departments that would work well together on a project, consider going ahead and putting them together post haste!

8. Conduct a cross-departmental SWOT    

An oldie but goodie…SWOT analysis is a great way to get everyone from all departments brainstorming what they think the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are.  This activity is heavily dependent on organizational buy-in so if cross-departmental brainstorming does not seem like a real possibility for your business there may be something else that will work just as well (see previous suggestions).

9. Identify cross-functional teams      

Sometimes we can get stuck in our traditional mindset of thinking that cross-team collaboration only exists between two different departments or functional groups.  While this group dynamic has its merit and there may be times when it is highly relevant, identifying cross-functional teams to address issues across multiple departments can often provide faster resolutions, increased efficiency, and enhanced creativity/out-of-the-box thinking.  To take full advantage cross-functional teams should cross-organizational boundaries when possible.  This usually means crossing business units and sometimes even company lines.

10. Align team decision making with cross-functional input      

More often than not cross-team collaboration leads to better outcomes (more creative/better solutions) when everyone is on the same page and has had an opportunity to provide perspective and insight into the issue at hand before a final decision is made.  A simple way to set this up is by having cross-functional teams document their recommended solution, rationale, and alignment with cross-team input prior to presenting for final approval.  

Thus the most effective cross-functional teams will have already done their due diligence in this regard beforehand so it can be a natural part of the process for any cross-functional team.  By doing this it will empower cross-functional teams to feel better equipped in their decision-making process and provide the cross-team collaboration required for better outcomes. It also ensures cross-team alignment as cross-functional teams will be more likely to reach a decision that is cross-team aligned thus less likely for cross-functional teams to reach different decisions and result in confusion.


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