Most organizations, especially those that are committed to continuous improvement, could benefit from an increase in cross functional collaboration. Unfortunately, sometimes it can be hard to get employees really excited about the idea. Perhaps it’s because “cross functional collaboration” just sounds like something you’d expect to see in a Dilbert cartoon and not in real life. If your employees roll their eyes whenever the subject comes up, it might be time for your cross functional collaboration efforts to get a makeover. Here are some ways to get started.
Make it Easy
There are a few reasons why collaborating outside of department or team silos can be a pain for employees. Each group likely has its own way of working on and documenting their improvement efforts (or they don't have one at all!). This slows progress on joint initiatives and impedes the flow of critical information. It is also not uncommon for each team to have its own lingo, which can be confusing to people. Implementing one standard approach to capturing, documenting and managing opportunities for improvement helps break down the walls and brings employees together to solve each new challenge. Infusing the culture with a common language for discussing positive change is another way to make cross functional collaboration less complicated.
Tie it to Company Goals
When business goals are clearly communicated and closely tied to individual and department goals, employees are empowered to act in the best interest of the company and make better day-to-day decisions. Leaders who want to see teams working more closely together should frequently communicate the importance of collaboration and articulate how it will have a direct impact on the most important objectives of the organization.
“What’s in it for me?” is probably one of the most asked questions in business. Boost your collaboration initiatives by addressing this elephant in the room. Employees who work closely with those in other roles have the opportunity to learn new skills, explore different career paths, develop lasting and beneficial relationships, and make improvements that will be appreciated by their peers throughout the organization. This question is even easier to answer if employees see that others who work together to address business challenges are recognized for their contributions.
When teams come together to solve problems, improve efficiency, and enhance customer value, the work should be celebrated throughout the organization. The best collaboration platforms include improvement broadcasting capabilities, making it easy for managers to let everyone know when it’s time to say congratulations and thank you.
Cross functional collaboration shouldn’t be a chore. With the right approach and the right tools in place you can get everyone energized about busting barriers and tackling challenges together.