Best practices for cross-group collaboration

Collaboration across groups improves business performance by helping companies experience the benefits of scale, uncover new ideas, and improve engagement. Employees who break down silos through collaboration are better able to foster innovation and inclusion.

Why it matters

In Horizontal collaboration and cross-silo leadership, multiple benefits of cross-group collaboration are identified and methods to create these opportunities are explored, such as:

  • Develop cultural brokers who, “promote cross-boundary work in one of two ways: by acting as a bridge or as an adhesive.”
  • “Encourage people to ask the right questions” specifically around what groups should be involved in a project."
  • “Get people to see the world through others’ eyes”, or in other words encourage workers to think about their colleagues' wants and incentives.”
  • “Bring employees from diverse groups together on initiatives. As a rule, cross-functional teams give people across silos a chance to identify various kinds of expertise within their organization.”

The How to Make Sure Agile Teams Can Work Together article explains how important cross-group collaboration is for getting work done:

  • “Work occurs through collaboration in networks of relationships that often do not mirror formal reporting structures or standard work processes."
  • "Intuitively, we know that the collaborative intensity of work has skyrocketed, and that collaborations are central to agility."
  • "Yet most organizations don’t manage internal collaboration productively, and assume that technology or formal org charts can yield agility.”

Best practices

  • Create cross-functional Teams channels that focus on customer needs.
  • Use personal network insights to select key internal contacts as important, which enables immediate notification of email from them, more efficient responses to their requests, and reminders to schedule time to connect with them.
  • Motivate team members to reach across silos. Break down silos and expand networks with cross-functional goals to help improve communications with isolated teams by assigning interdepartmental liaisons to communicate across teams.
  • Map the interdependencies between different teams where central players contribute, to understand and plan for potential risks. Have a back-up plan to cover potential interruptions to connectivity.
  • Pair newcomers and network influencers through staffing or mentoring. This simple practice triples newcomer connectivity compared to those who do not get this experience.
  • Set up “communities of practice” or business development initiatives to help share expertise or resources.
  • Add a cross-group collaboration component to employee performance reviews to incentive and reward broader collaboration.

Change strategies

Create goals across teams or departments

You can coordinate and assign liaison roles to communicate across teams and with other departments and avoid isolation and ensure information flow. Ways to do this:

  • Identify a cross-team goal, such as improving customer satisfaction.
  • Identify the groups that should be involved, such as Support, Services, and Engineering.
  • Align on an initial project, such as a platform to quickly find and respond to customer incidents.
  • Create a platform to share ideas, such as a Teams channel and a monthly check-in meeting.

Create cross-team communities

Use Microsoft Teams to create a space for people with similar interests to share ideas, knowledge, and resources. For more tips, see Microsoft Teams video training for team collaboration.

Enable network insights

Empower individuals to take advantage of the metrics and suggestions on how to improve their connections by using network insights.

Viva Insights best practices