Cross Functional Collaboration Challenges: How to Overcome Common Obstacles

Cross Functional Collaboration Challenges: How to Overcome Common Obstacles
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There are many emerging technologies designed to improve multiple facets of business, particularly with regards to communication initiatives.

People now realize the benefits of openly discussing important objectives, while remaining as transparent as possible.

This approach fosters better collaboration, lifting team morale so they’re more motivated to hit critical targets.

Staff should receive all the information needed to perform tasks to the best of their ability.

The presence of software and other modern tools has made the process of cross functional collaboration significantly easier.

Businesses have leveraged the power of services like Google Drive and Slack, which together enable workers to share files and communicate from all corners of the globe.

Geographic restrictions have been rendered obsolete, signaling how far we’ve come from an advancement standpoint.

But introducing new software can be difficult at the best of times, especially when staff have grown used to their current way of doing things.

Change must be managed effectively if you’re to overcome common obstacles.

When new software is sprung upon staff with reckless abandon, you can imagine the reaction from those expected to regularly interact with it.

In addition there are many interpersonal barriers to overcome, especially if you’re to prevent the resistance that often leads to change initiatives falling short of expectations.

Remember one thing: When it comes to change there is no such thing as over-communication.

By clearly communicating what’s expected from your team, creating an open two-way dialogue, you give your transformative efforts a better chance.

Once responsibilities have been delegated, and vital knowledge has been made accessible to stakeholders, you’ll be positioned to collaborate across multiple teams and departments.

Cross-functional collaboration can help us work to the best of our abilities, and unlock opportunities that would otherwise go unnoticed.

But what exactly is it?

Before we look at common obstacles that can stunt the cross-collaboration process, let’s begin with a quick definition.

What is Cross Functional Collaboration?

It is when people from different departments join forces to tackle pressing tasks.

What’s great with cross functional collaboration is the way knowledge can be extracted from many sources, and the synergistic boost experienced when teams unite.

Whether it’s to complete a one-off project or day-to-day duties, cross functional collaboration certainly has its uses.

But unfortunately things don’t always run as seamlessly as you’d expect, meaning there are many challenges to overcome.

How Can We Resolve Obstacles Faced Along The Way?

Lack of Awareness

Cross functional collaboration can’t occur unless relevant parties are aware of other projects.

OK this might be stating the obvious, but oblivion is a common productivity killer.

They’ll often be critical employees who are simply clueless to the work they could be contributing genuine value towards.

By actively communicating work with one another, there is a much better chance for cross-functional collaboration.

Imagine talking with others about a specific task for them to say ‘I can definitely help you with that’, and for your responsibilities to become significantly easier as a result.

Regularly share summaries of your upcoming work so relevant parties can come together and naturally become boost productivity.

Conflicting Goals

Your priorities won’t be shared with other departments, meaning it’s not uncommon for collective tasks to seem incompatible from the offset.

But others not sharing your sense of urgency doesn’t mean you can’t collaborate.

Poor alignment of goals can slow things down, especially when there’s a clear lack of clarity.

In this scenario it’s the responsibility of management and other leadership to align the goals of everyone in the organization.

Ultimately all staff should be on the same page, with commitment to the same vision.

Company goals should be made visible, alongside creating an awareness for how smaller projects contribute to the achievement of broader objectives.

Lack of Understanding

Co-workers aren’t expected to understand each other’s job roles, especially when employees have been trained in different areas.

One of the biggest goals of cross functional collaboration is to reduce work burdens, but often opportunities are missed when people simply don’t understand each other.

Overcoming this communication/language barrier is a huge prospect.

Learning to speak the language of your fellow employees will enable you to determine who can help with your work scope, and who you can help in other scenarios.

This can be achieved by getting to know your co-workers, asking them detailed questions, and with the general maintenance of open dialogue organization-wide.

‘It’s Too Time Consuming’

How often have you requested help from someone only for their perception of how time consuming the task will be to put them off?

This is a fairly common scenario, where projects are pushed back sometimes even indefinitely.

New projects can seem daunting, but once you’re stuck in and multiple brains are on board, you’d be surprised by how quickly work gets done.

To avoid workers turning down an opportunity to collaborate, you should provide them with an estimate of how long the project will take.

You can then communicate their estimated time and commitment to the work in question, to enable them to gain a clear understanding of whether they can feasibly contribute.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.