5 Proven Strategies towards Improving Cross-Team Collaboration

Nextplane Inc.
6 min readNov 9, 2020

Widespread adoption of new team collaboration tools is taking place rapidly as more businesses adopt and implement remote work policies.

As of April 2020, Microsoft Teams has become the top choice for enterprises with 75 million daily active users, and Slack has more than 12 million daily active users (DAU).

Over the past year, Microsoft Teams usage has soared to 75 million daily active users (DAU), and Slack has over 12 million DAU.

However, getting employees to use new collaboration tools is more challenging than it might appear. According to a 2019 IDC Survey, one out of every two respondents said their organization currently uses team collaboration tools, but 41% of employees in these organizations aren’t using the tools available.

Why are these employees hesitant or unprepared to take full advantage of these tools, and how can IT teams better anticipate their needs? Here’s a look at the challenges and strategies involved in improving cross-team collaboration, along with some tips for proactively addressing them.

What is Cross Team Collaboration?

Cross-team collaborations have become 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 various departments and levels for a common progressive purpose. It is 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 refers to the division of labor and organizing a company based on specialization. A prevalent structure in many companies seems only logical to separate workers based on their fields of expertise. It makes individual and department objectives and responsibilities clear, which increases that level of efficiency. However, the danger of this is that it restricts the influx of information, creating a tunnel vision. This puts innovation and any chance of company-wide collaboration at risk.

Nearly 70% of the organizations benchmarked in a recent survey are now using a team collaboration application such as Cisco Webex Teams, Microsoft Teams, or Slack. However, the reality is over 42% of organizations even run more than one team collaboration tools internally.

As a result, increasingly internal teams can be on different collaboration platforms, including legacy instant messaging platforms like Cisco Jabber or Microsoft Skype for Business.

Without cross-platform interoperability solutions, data and communication become siloed and trapped within the tools — creating walled gardens and hampering productivity and open communication.

The only way to eliminate the silo effect is to understand cross-team collaboration challenges and improve it.

Here are the five proven ways to achieve this:

1. Select the Best Team

Selecting the right team member increases the potential for cross-team collaboration success.

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 fearless entity in the face of adversity.

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 are needed to overcome obstacles.

The best teams 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. Connect Your Teams

Trust is the foundation for the success of any cross-team collaboration, and the best way to build it is through team members being able to communicate and interact effortlessly.

As businesses continue to adjust to new ways of working, inter-office phone calls and emails aren’t the best way to stay connected in an environment that’s becoming increasingly agile and remote.

It may seem obvious that the solution is for team collaboration vendors to work together to enable cross-platform collaboration. There is, however, little incentive for a vendor who is trying to capture team collaboration market share to allow interoperability with a rival, and monetizing such a federation would be difficult.

In the absence of native federation options, third party cross-team interoperability solutions can enable intracompany collaboration between teams on Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Webex Teams.

Using NextPlane, companies can join the two platforms together, so users can send one-to-one messages, share presence status, participate in channels, and share files without leaving their preferred tool.

In addition to messaging and file sharing, companies should encourage their remote workers to use video calling and conferencing that emulate a face-to-face experience.

3. Improve Employee Engagement

Research shows that employee engagement directly affects business profitability, with 71% of executives claiming that it’s critical to their company’s success.

People are more inclined to be responsive to collaborations when they feel a sense of responsibility. Often, the presence of relationship complexes hinders effective collaborations. Every member of a cross-functional team is essential 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 considered and appropriately analyzed. It is vital to avoid by-passing people’s opinions on critical 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.

4. Encourage peer recognition

When someone does well or goes that extra mile, it’s always nice to be recognized. Include a reward system in your cross-team collaboration strategy because recognizing your members’ efforts will make them feel valued and strengthen their commitment to the team. Allowing the team to reward the recipients is a method that can build more trust and encourage collaboration.

5. Don’t be afraid to experiment

Cross-functional teams come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, which means there will be all sorts of methods to boost collaboration. So, when it comes to finding the perfect formula for your team, remember it’s all about trial and error. Tap into the pool of creative minds, give the listed tips a go, and you’ll be sure to find a way that will make your team cause a splash.

NextPlane — Collaboration Without Boundaries — Connect. Any Team. Anywhere

Business agility has always been necessary. According to McKinsey, successful agile business transformation can boost customer satisfaction, increase employee engagement, and improve operational performance-and potentially deliver a 20% to 30% uptick in financial performance.

Achieving these goals means users should stay on their preferred collaboration platform to do their jobs wherever they’re working. Interacting with multiple team collaboration apps, as each platform presents a different set of challenges and a distinct UX, can become a productivity drain.

By delivering collaboration without boundaries, NextPlane allows users on different team collaboration platforms to connect with their colleagues, inside or outside their enterprise, without leaving their preferred platforms. Users can send messages with rich text and emoji reactions, share presence status, participate in channels, and share files regardless of the team collaboration platform.

For more information, please visit NextPlane, or book a free 30-minute call with a NextPlane specialist.

Originally published at https://nextplane.net on November 9, 2020.