Throughout 2020, the pandemic, lockdowns, and remote work have made businesses and organizations worldwide recognize the importance of efficient cross-functional collaboration culture. Teamwork is appreciated more than ever before, and recruiters are focusing on team spirit and effective communication as some of the top soft skills required in new employees.
With the coronavirus predicted to stay in our lives well into 2021, the importance of cross-functional collaboration cannot be denied. This blog post discusses the best ways to build a cross-functional collaboration culture across the organization.
Let us first start by discussing what cross-functional collaboration is?
Basically, what cross-functional collaboration means;
when people from different functional expertise or from different job functions come together to work towards a common goal or project.
There are very few projects that can be completed by one person or the same team. Employees from different areas and expertise have to come together to solve problems or implement new solutions.
With a crisis such as COVID-19, the collaboration among employees and the team is even more critical. The pandemic has affected every business and every facet of the operations, including production, sales, marketing, customer support, etc. This requires cross-functional work and teams from HR, legal, marketing, communication, IC to build a solid strategy to overcome the COVID-19 crisis.
Benefits of Cross-Functional Collaboration:
Various people with different skillsets and talents working on the same project has many benefits. With multiple backgrounds, every individual contribution is imperative as they look at situations from their unique perspective. Although there are definitely some challenges of building and implementing a cross-functional collaboration, enterprises and businesses have realized the importance of implementing it across their operations.
Let us go over some of the most important benefits of cross-functional collaboration in the workplace.
As mentioned above, people from different backgrounds and skillset look at problems with their own unique perspectives shaped by their own experience. With cross-functional collaboration, teams are most likely to develop innovative solutions compared to people or groups working in silos.
With practices like brainstorming and idea generation, cross-functional collaboration results in productivity and success.
Flow of Knowledge:
Skill gaps in workplaces is an issue that most companies are trying to figure a solution to. Companies are trying to train people internally to equip them with new skills and knowledge necessary for delivering projects around digital transformation.
This is why the flow of knowledge across cross-functional teams is essential. This allows employees to grow and gain new skills necessary for an organization to stay competitive in the market.
Enhanced Communication Skills:
One of the most in-demand soft skills these days is communication skills. Cross-functional collaboration equips employees to enhance their communication skills while engaging with other teams and people around the company.
It is a great way to share ideas and delve into healthy communication exchanges within cross-functional teams, empowering employees to improve their communication skills.
Increased Employee Retention:
Companies with a team-oriented culture have higher levels of employee retention. This allows them to save costs and investment in recruiting and training, strengthening the overall company culture and values.
According to psychologist Sherrie Campbell, people thrive in environments that free them to communicate and work together. When the company environment is focused on collaboration, team members naturally feel a part of something bigger than themselves.
This is the ultimate crux of successful workplace collaboration amongst cross-functional teams; to ensure that teams work together and achieve more because of it. They are using collective brainpower to maximize their input and not just for the sake of it.
Building a Culture of Cross-Functional Collaboration:
There are various ways to boost collaboration in a workplace, like implementing team productivity tools or encouraging team building activities. However, these practices do not yield impactful work. To actually implement a culture of collaboration and communication, companies need to delve deeper into their culture.
Let us discuss some of the cultural changes companies can implement to achieve successful cross-functional collaboration.
Start at the Top:
Like any cultural initiative in the workplace, nothing can be implemented without buy-in from the leadership team.
According to a Gallup study, only 29 percent of employees say that they are encouraged to be creative and think outside the box, while only 18 percent say that they are empowered to take risks that can lead to new products or solutions.
In order to build a collaborative organization, companies need to start by training managers to encourage communication, idea sharing, and risk-taking. By fostering a policy of “no bad ideas”, you can give rise to unprecedented innovation, but it has to be more than just talk.
Managers and leaders should lead by example, asking for feedback and ideas from their teams. Leaders should be open to communication, share their own ideas, and admit when they make mistakes to give rise to a culture of transparency and trust.
Prioritize Inclusive Leadership:
Inclusive leadership means everyone feels comfortable to speak up, take risks, make mistakes, and take action on their ideas. The most successful people are usually the ones with colleagues and leaders who have their back.
In an inclusive workplace,
Leadership is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I).
This ensures that the company actively recruits employees from all races and backgrounds and recognizes the differences between white and people of color in the workplace. Inclusive workplaces also employ programs like de-biasing training.
Outline A Clear Way Towards Company Goals:
One of the best ways to inculcate a culture of collaboration and open communication is by providing a clear line of sight to what everyone is working towards. Knowing that everyone is working towards the same big-picture perspective and has a strong sense of common purpose, employees become more collaborative, intuitive, and take risks to meet the end goal.
This can be done by clearly defining the company goals in company communications wherever possible. Sending out mission statements and goals in newsletters, decks, and emails is a great way to remind everyone in the company of what they are working towards.
The best way to collaborate in the workplace is obviously the technology that makes working together easier. It is vital to embrace useful tools that allow employees to communicate and collaborate with each other, send and receive files without hassle, and remain on top of everything. Some of the popular cloud solutions include:
- Microsoft Teams
- Base Camp
Efficient communication tools are especially important during remote work due to the pandemic. Employees are working from their homes, and the need to have a reliable communication platform has risen. It’s important for companies to equip employees with proper collaboration tools to increase cross-functional collaboration.
Connect with the employees personally:
It is imperative for leadership to make direct contact with people down the hierarchy. This allows them to have unfiltered information about people’s actions and states of mind, especially during a crisis like COVID.
Through these personal interactions, leaders can understand how employees are coping and identify and establish linkages among the people so they are better able to support each other. This also allows the employees to gain the confidence to talk about the issues hindering progress or productivity, resulting in open communication and transparency.
This ultimately results in better collaboration and communication, not only with the leadership but also with other teams.
In conclusion, one of the best ways to enhance cross-functional collaboration is to change and modify the company culture at a deeper level. This includes building a robust internal communication strategy, providing a transparent and trusting environment, and ensuring everyone is on the same page about company goals and priorities.
To create an inclusive culture, improve the health and well-being of the company and employees. Ignite new thinking and foster a collaborative culture.