How to Encourage Cross-Team Collaboration

Team collaboration is the name of the business game in today’s technology-focused world.

More than ever, internal communication is crucial. Many companies are focusing on breaking down silos and some are creating a flattened organizational structure, rather than the traditional top-down pyramid hierarchy.

Even if you want to keep the hierarchy, the advantages of cross-team collaboration are numerous:

  • Silos can slow down change and stunt growth — for example, when moving to a new digital platform, if the sales team and IT department don’t communicate, sales opportunities could be lost.
  • Silos create clashing goals — for example, two lines of business could have competing goals that are unknowingly undercutting each other.
  • Silos can cause cross-organization resentment — for example, if the financial and HR departments don’t communicate regularly with the sales team, new policies could seem overly restrictive and counterproductive.
  • Silos can limit new ideas — someone from marketing or customer service, for example, may have valuable input for the product development team, but unless the input is shared it may never be heard.

There are many opportunities within any organization for more cross-team collaboration, but in order to optimize collaboration, it helps to first understand the cause of inefficiencies. How do silos happen?

  • Many times, silos are institutional. It’s the way something has always been done, so it continues to be done that way.
  • Often, the departments don’t have much reason to speak with each other unless they directly seek it out.
  • Certain projects require technical skills that other departments don’t have and it either doesn’t make sense to bring other perspectives into the project at the beginning stage or doesn’t occur to the team to do so.
  • Geographical dispersion can also cause silos. While technology is allowing opportunity for remote work, it can also hamper internal communication. If one department isn’t in the office, or works out of another location, the opportunities for collaboration will automatically be less. Missing out on the ‘hallway conversations’ means missing out on organic discussion.

So, as a business leader, how can you encourage team collaboration to break down silos and identify new opportunities?

  • Align leaders and build governance. Senior leaders set the tone for the rest of the organization. Cross-collaboration should start at the top and be directed down the ladder with aligned messaging and clear goals. Once those goals are communicated, senior executives should establish governance, such as a steering committee, to make sure the collaboration continues.
  • Create cross-functional teams with clear roles and responsibilities. Pay attention to the makeup of joint teams and don’t just put together those who have historically worked well together. Also establish the leadership of these teams — who is accountable and who has the final sign-off?
  • Create joint incentives. Work with joint deliverables and metrics and tie year-end reviews and bonuses to overall desired outcomes.
  • Create a “two-in-the-box” structure. In joint teams where decisions need to be made, have two people responsible for making the decision together. If they cannot agree, a third party can step in to make the call.
  • Use the right collaboration tools. The technology you choose can make a big difference. Working with programs that simplify the process and allow for collaboration across an organization can up your internal communication and encourage business growth.

SHEA Global are experts at finding the right business solutions for your organization. We can help your team enhance collaboration and create a dynamic environment. Learn more at or call 1-866-239-1113.