You can have as many cross-team collaboration techniques as you have teams.
Todays’s changing nature of work requires you to change them quickly to grow and scale. How can you improve team performance across your many teams?
What is Cross-team Collaboration?
Cross-team collaboration is a process that brings together groups from various work areas with different skills to find joint solutions to common problems and execute group goals.
Why managing cross-functional teams is important for growing a business?
Work has changed.
You cannot rely on conventional structures anymore.
There is more risk, novelty, disruption, and unpredictability.
Then, how can you create a framework that transcends the restrictions of traditional teams and helps you grow your business in times of uncertainty?
Cross-functional teams with freelancers are an excellent solution to your teamwork pains.
Managing Cross-functional Teams
Cross-functional teams collaborate between themselves in the scope of a larger organization to bring a joint goal to fruition.
It is common for employees to miss seeing the bigger picture because they focus on the internal team goals. But that must not happen to a manager.
For example, when team collaboration is poor, there is often friction between a sales and marketing team.
Such friction results in sales decrease, fewer returning customers, lower conversion rates, and the inability to identify the bottlenecks that drain the resources.
It is the task of the manager to:
- Keep the team strings connected.
- Observe how individual team members, teams, and departments contribute to the organizational goals.
Effective cross-functional collaboration requires 100-percent dedication from you as a leader and resourcefulness in conflict resolution.
If you have trouble taking a holistic perspective or if it costs you more than expected, perhaps you haven’t considered using virtual teams.
Working on multiple projects asks you to step up the game with your managerial skills.
Quickly assembling and disassembling virtual teams (also called flash teams) can support you while scaling your business.
Teamwork vs. Collaboration: What Is the Difference?
You cannot run successful teamwork without collaboration. Both concepts are similar.
The only difference is that teamwork considers how individual members work toward a mutual goal while collaboration indicates a collective effort toward a shared goal.
- Those who collaborate can do so independently without a team leader.
- Employees that work as a part of a team will do their best under leadership and guidance.
This subtle difference can be even more complex when you have to manage many teams on many projects.
Communication and Collaboration
Without good communication, you cannot collaborate effectively.
Both communication and collaboration include an exchange of information. However, simply information sharing for the purposes of understanding is not the essence of a collab.
Working jointly to make progress on a shared project is the essence of collaborating. You can work on the same platform for exchanging information and advancing project goals. However, effective relationships between teams, team goals, and team members make all the difference.
Lean and Mean Team Collaboration Techniques
But it doesn’t have to — if you apply the following techniques, you will grow confident in how you manage any change or team challenge.
1. Practice trust, tolerance, and awareness.
You have probably heard of the famous saying by Reinhold Niebuhr: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Applied to cross-functional work, your role as a leader comes down to these three pillars:
- Trust. Having the courage to change what needs to be changed.
- Tolerance. Acceptance of powerlessness to always direct projects to your will.
- Awareness. Knowing the difference between the two.
Your primary role as a leader is to act by the principles of trust, tolerance, and awareness and set an example for your teams to follow.
LISTEN TO THE VIRTUAL FRONTIER PODCAST TO LEARN MORE ABOUT EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION:
Here are three examples of cross-team collaboration techniques in practice:
- Trust is earning your team’s loyalty by showing up consistently and acting upon promises.
- Tolerance is adjusting individual deadlines to match team deadlines.
- Awareness is knowing when to introduce or replace employees, teams, and departments.
A group becomes a team when members have established trust between them.
2. Align team goals.
It is normal to expect errors if you bring together people that don’t have a clue about what the other team is doing. For successful cross-team collaboration, team members must work on individual tasks but also on common goals. It is your job as a manager to align team goals, and, most importantly: don’t forget to share those goals with your team.
If you make this difference about common goals, you can create as many teams with as many people with multiple tasks and still stay on top of it all because you are certain how the individual merges into the collective.
3. Document everything.
Work documentation is a prerequisite on virtual teams because you can get lost in keeping track of a team spread across the globe and working in different time zones. Document as much as possible to have your data safe and to create a knowledge base.
Documentation is a surefire method for:
- Setting expectations.
- Clarifying misunderstandings in communication.
- Tracking goal progress.
Documentation for how the team collaborates is a go-to resource for team members even when they use tens of different apps and technologies.
4. Choose team collaboration software based on quality standards.
Team collaboration software is designed to help teams share files and communicate ideas in a virtual space.
There are hundreds of collaboration tools you can choose for your teams. Improving team collaboration by only adding as many tools as possible can cost you licenses and create more stress at your workplace.
Creating quality standards before you buy expensive collaboration tools that may end up forgotten and useless is the solution to ensure collaboration is based on your business strategy rather than on external indicators.
Investigate each of the six typical functional areas for a business—strategy, marketing, finance, human resources, technology and equipment, and operations—and align your QS with your strategy. Then, find out which tools best serve your strategy.
5. Define the project manager’s role according to project requirements.
For a simple project, all you need is a team collaboration tool or an existing member of your team willing to assume the responsibilities of the project manager. But when it comes to cross-functional projects, having a project manager responsible to maintain functional areas in full force is the missing puzzle to keep everything working together.
Even if you have individual project managers, you may need one person to keep track of how multiple teams collaborate.
Whatever you choose to do, start from requirements, then create roles, and finally hire a project manager. Doing it the other way around may end up in either the tasks slipping through the cracks or project managers with confusing roles.
6. Establish real-time work for crucial tasks.
You cannot do everything in real-time but the idea is to be vigilant, track everything, and keep note of the changes as you work with the team and with clients. To provide team flexibility, enable tools for asynchronous communication.
7. Assign task owners.
Strong leadership is a desired skill. However, when you work cross-functionally, you cannot expect to show up at every corner and solve every problem.
Building up your delegation skills, delegating responsibilities, and assigning task owners and project owners with clear roles, responsibilities, and skill set
Because they share complex goals, members of cross-functional teams need clearly defined roles and responsibilities to fit into the workflow process.
The workflow process describes, step-by-step, each team member’s place, role, and task in the joint work.
An easy way to link ownership to tasks and teams is by designing workflow management systems. By creating workflows you:
- Keep every owner in the loop for task completion
- Develop a dynamic, self-sufficient process
- Manage time and budget
- Provide employees with tools
- Nurture a culture of collaboration
When teams are homogenous or collaborate for a long time, these team collaboration techniques develop organically for team members. The problem is when you encounter a challenge that you need to solve fast. For that, you need commitment.
8. Require commitment.
Commitment is the glue that holds everything together.
Commitment is an agreement with oneself and others about the strong belief to create something significant for the individual and the team
Ask your teams to commit to the collaboration techniques to ensure you have communicated everything properly.
Hire global freelance talent to reap the benefits of cross-team collaboration.
Communicate, collaborate, and grow with readymade teamwork principles, workflows, and rules.
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