Cross Functional Collaboration
“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play.”H.E. Luccock
What to Know
Lack of collaboration across groups may seem like a team or supervisor issue, but this may not be the case. The culture and tone set for collaboration by senior leaders is critically important. Senior leaders are responsible for creating an environment that is conducive to cross-departmental collaboration, open communication, and cohesion.
We are wired to believe that the work we do is unique – our work is more challenging and difficult compared to the work of other groups. When we become aware of this bias and realize we all have challenges and obstacles to overcome, we can become better collaborators. Take the time to ask other groups about some of the challenges they face and how you can help.
What Managers Can Do
Encourage leaders to discuss their goals/priorities and seek alignment. Leaders should focus their approach to leadership from an “organizational” view vs. a “department or team” view.
Encourage shared ownership and a commitment to the success of the collaboration by asking team members to agree to the objectives (or better yet, help define the objectives) and discuss the benefits to the organization.
It is important for members of the collaboration to understand their role and responsibilities at each stage of the collaboration.
What Employees Can Do
Ask your manager for opportunities to shadow people in other groups. Find opportunities to observe others doing their work, or arrange a lunch/coffee meeting to ask them about their day-to-day.
When resolving conflict, focus on the “what” rather than the “who.” By focusing on tasks/actions rather than intentions or personality differences, you can learn from mistakes and make a plan for better collaboration going forward.
What Leadership Can Do
Ensure that each department is clear on how they support the vision. Check for alignment (and misalignment) across departments in accomplishing common goals.
Identify what policies, procedures, etc. are working well and where are there opportunities for improvement. Check with department leaders to learn how work can be transferred and shared seamlessly across groups. Seek input from key stakeholders at all levels and from across the organization.
Reflect on the collaboration among your leadership team. Are senior leaders modeling good collaboration, open communication, care and concern for others, and positive relationship building?
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Suggestions From The Community
What have you seen work well to foster a good balance between home and work life?
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