(This post was originally published on the Asana blog: Cross-functional collaboration)
Given the amount of technology built to improve team communication, cross-functional collaboration should be easier than ever. We can instantly contact coworkers with Slack. We can share documents across the globe with Google Drive. We can assign tasks and collaborate on projects in Asana. However, introducing new software to your team isn’t always enough. You likely have other, more interpersonal, barriers to overcome as well.
At InVision, for example, collaboration tools play a key role in coordinating work between the product and marketing teams. However, they also emphasize the importance of constant communication, clear delegation of responsibilities, and company-wide knowledge of upcoming product launches. All of these ingredients feed into their ability to successfully collaborate across multiple teams—and their marketing campaigns are stronger for it.
When you lack of clarity of purpose, it becomes apparent when you try to break out of your silo to collaborate—and then hit a wall.
Cross-functional collaboration can unlock opportunities for companies to do their best possible work. So why do we fight it? And why do we have a hard time facilitating it even when we all agree we want it? Below, you’ll find 5 common barriers to collaboration across teams, departments, and functions—along with solutions for each.
What is cross-functional collaboration?
Put simply, cross-functional collaboration is when people from different teams or functions (marketing, sales, engineering, HR) within a company join forces to work on a common goal, project, or responsibility.
It can be anything from day-to-day responsibilities, like customer support and marketing teaming up on social media, to one-off projects, like sales and product developing a new, customer-converting feature. However, making it happen—not to mention making it work work—isn’t always easy.
1. The teams involved have conflicting goals—or no goals at all
Have you ever tried to involve another team in a project, only to hear them say “that’s not a priority for us”? It can feel maddening if you know it will directly impact revenue, gain a significant number of new customers, fix a huge technical debt, or otherwise positively impact your business.
In this case, you and the team at hand likely lack alignment on goals. Or worse, you don’t know the goals of your team or company.
When you lack clarity of purpose, it becomes apparent when you try to break out of your silo to collaborate—and then hit a wall.
Solution: align on goals and share them with everyone
Encourage senior leaders to make your company goals publically visible so everyone, not just the leadership team, knows your company’s priorities. If you’re an individual contributor, make sure you know how your projects ladder up to broader goals (you can use the pyramid of clarity to help map this out) and communicate which goal your initiative supports with collaborators.