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Cross-team communication – How to make it happen

Cross-team communication is something a number of business leaders talk about, but it’s not always easy to articulate the benefits it can bring. Here, we’ll tell you why cross-team communication is essential, while giving you a step-by-step guide on how to facilitate it within your business.

Why is cross-team communication important?  

Cross-team communication can bring about a number of positive changes, whatever your business.

5 reasons to focus on getting it right

1. It reduces friction

Effective cross-team communication can drastically increase the speed and efficiency of your business by removing needless friction - like two employees in different teams completing the same task.

If there’s a forum where ideas and objectives are shared, the wider business is more likely to understand why a given decision is being made, creating fewer obstacles and less friction. In short, it allows you to get things done more quickly, without needless bumps in the road.  

2. It spreads context and learnings

Better communication saves you time and money when a member of your team decides to leave the business. Effective cross-team communication can ensure that other employees are sufficiently equipped to pick up the slack and pitch in while a replacement is found.

Properly implemented cross-team communication can also cut down on wasted time. When it’s working properly within an organisation, it ensures your employees aren’t learning things they already know more than once. The learnings from successes and failures are passed around, saving the need to make those learnings twice.

3. It increases the opportunity to challenge things within your business

Although you don’t want needless obstacles at every turn, a healthy debate about an idea or business decision can be invaluable.

Cross-team communication creates a culture in which different teams can challenge their counterparts in a constructive and productive way.

4. It provides greater opportunity for feedback

Constructive feedback is invaluable, but it shouldn’t sit within one department. Cross-team communication ensures the relevant voices throughout the organisation are heard when key business decisions are being made.

A marketing team taking feedback from a product department can shine a whole new light on a decision or idea, identifying challenges and opportunities they may not have considered.  

5. It creates consistency

This may seem an obvious one, but you’d be surprised how often businesses are found wanting when it comes to consistency. Cross-team communication helps make sure that your copy, design and tone of voice is understood and adhered to across your entire business.

There’s no use in having brand guidelines if only one team of many is using them!  

But you can have too much of a good thing…

You can go overboard when it comes to cross-team communication. Too much of it can be damaging to productivity, so keep an eye on it and regularly review it to assess whether it’s providing you with what you want your organisation to gain from it.  

5 ways to make it happen at your organisation

It doesn’t require a root-and-branch cultural overhaul to reap the benefits of cross-team communication. Here are five things you can do to make cross-team communication more effective within your organisation.

1. Set expectations of what cross-team communication means

Make sure everyone within the business is completely clear on what good communication is and how it can benefit the business. Once there’s an understanding and buy-in from your staff, it’ll be far easier to implement.

2. Create moments when it happens

Whether it’s a Slack channel or a weekly meeting, creating moments in time that are dedicated to cross-team communication is a great thing to do in ensuring it’s effective and has a positive impact for all teams.  

3. Review it regularly

Is it working? Is it enough? Is it too much? Make sure you’re honest with yourself when it comes to answering these questions and be a whistleblower if it isn’t working out. There may be teething problems early on in the process, so make sure you’re reviewing your process regularly with an objective eye.

4. Develop a culture of trust and respect

Build communication on foundations of trust and respect. If people are trying to catch one another out or get one over on their colleagues, it can do more harm than good. When the goal is to further the business within a trusting and respectful environment, communication across teams can work wonders.

5. Keep checking in on why you’re doing it

Are your efforts delivering what you want them to? If not, why not? Continuously ask why you wanted to foster a culture of cross-team communication in the first place and if your current way of implementing it isn’t working, it’s worth reviewing to see how you can improve the process.