Cross-Team Collaboration and Communication
Written by: Hrishikesh Pardeshi, Founder at Flexiple, buildd & Remote Tools.
Last updated: Jan 19, 2023
If there are good practices for setting up a remote team with cross-timezone and cross-site, the challenges that one would face would be mitigated. A disorder in the alignment at any point while building a product in distributed teams would be tough. Your team needs to understand the difference between collaboration and cooperation.
Best practices on how to:
1. Setup a structure for communication
2. Implement visual daily standup
3. Effective cross-team communication across different geographies
4. Effective communication and collaboration to succeed
1. Setup a structure for communication
- Good communication is the base for any good cross-team collaboration. For this, the way one should interact, and communication should be clearly outlined.
- Each one should understand what success means for the team.
- Understand the objectives and goals
This initial bit of preparatory work is very much vital as this repays us back while going ahead to work in a distributed team. Because of the preparatory work,
- The team members know what they are expected of
- The team members will also have a good understanding of the project that they are going to work on, their operations, etc.
While working in a cross-team, it’s very important to put a structure in the way we need to communicate. But it’s also very important that we need to remain flexible at times.
For example, if there were multiple technical challenges in the team, it’s very important to make changes in the daily schedule and try to resolve them quickly. By this way, things would get smoother easily.
2. Implement visual daily standup
After setting up a structure for communication, daily visual meetings would make a huge difference because of the following reasons.
1. Would help the team members to be transparent about their work that they are doing
2. Would help one understand the other's work too
3. Would motivate other team members to work better together
3. Would let sharing ideas for challenging problems
The stand-ups being visual makes a huge impact as the team is working remotely.
Some specifics related to the daily standups are as follows:
1. It should be based on the team: Instead of having all the team members, it would be better to have the meetings team-wise as they would have a common goal in mind and would be able to better discuss the problems.
2. Meetings should be visual: Visual meetings reap the benefits of staying in the team as the team is working remotely.
3. Rhythm of the meetings: The frequency of the meetings to be daily, weekly or bi-weekly should be set basis the team’s performance, their deliverables, and their deadline. It can also be an impromptu meeting if something is off track.
4. Be focused: Self-discipline and focus is very important to achieve success. Track metrics that would allow us to concentrate on the most important areas.
How to ensure transparency?
Visual management boards which display all the important information of a particular project should be shared across all the members of the team.
This board should have:
1. The entire schedule which has all the functions. It should have the vision of the product, non-negotiable features, success factors and such.
2. A ‘run chart’ which contains all the deliverables, goals, possible setbacks between the major tasks.
3. A layout of the team size and the team members
4. A schedule for the next 4-5 weeks
5. A section which has all the risks involved and the progress for all of them.
This visual management board builds trust and transparency amongst the team members. This can be made use of during the daily meetings. In addition, this is very useful as the team is working remotely.
Daily/ regular management for quick adaptation to changes:
The regular meetings would drive everyone in the team to adapt to the changes discussed. There will also be a room to suggest minor changes at the beginning of your task. These meetings could be a quick 10-minute meeting where you the team can discuss about the following:
1. Deviation to the actual plan
2. Any new addition/ deletion/ changes/ highlights to the task
3. Challenges and ways to tackle them
4. Recognize the drawbacks of any changes that are discussed during the meeting
This will ensure that the team members have the right confidence that they are on the right track.
2. Effective cross-team communication across different geographies:
When the team members are across the globe, we need to have an effective communication to succeed in our goal. We have written about some of the problems you could face and ways to solve them when collaborating with your team. Here are some quick tips:
a. Good video and audio calls:
In cross-site teams, being able to see the other person will help ensure positive relationships. Video calls work the best as even non-verbal responses could be understood. This would also help them stay energized, motivated, and focused.
b. Consider the time-zone differences too:
Always try to set up a meeting that better suits everyone in the team. A common group/ channel can be made use of for this to find everyone’s availability. When this is done, each and every one should be very reliable and responsive to make quick decisions.
Manager plays an important role:
The managers play a huge part in following the best practices to achieve the goal. This would include:
1. Consolidating the quick pointers/ key takeaways
2. Being very active and staying tuned in all the discussions. Asking questions is also very important
3. Being watchful to uncover the issues that are not mentioned
4. Effective communication and collaboration to succeed:
Optimizing the communication and collaboration in a cross-team is required to be successful. Things that we need to do to achieve efficiency in communication and collaboration:
1. Track the progress metrics
2. Identify the behaviours of the team to function the right way
3. Define what success means
Having said all of this, with a very strong strategic management and execution, the team will be able to adapt to the challenges, unmeetable deadlines, and such.
Game plans to improve cross-team collaboration:
Cross-team collaborations have become very common these days. Here are some quick pointers to improve cross-team collaboration. Some of the challenges when working together with your team can be eradicated at an early stage. Identify these and eradicate them.
1. Choose the right & best team:
Many cross-team collaborations have faced failure majorly because they lacked choosing the right team for the project. It’s not necessary that you have to choose the best performer but one that has good interpersonal skills, adaptability to changes, and a self-driven attitude.
2. Be transparent:
Being transparent is very critical to build the trust factor within the team.
3. Common floor for communication:
Communication is essential in remote teams and it’s very important to have a common channel for communication.
4. Constant engagement with employees:
Each and every member of a team should be considered equal and important. Regular engagement with each one of them is appreciated. It’s really important to consider each one’s opinions in a discussion and if not done, it will lead to an unwillingness to participate in any discussion.
As a cross-team, good experience and environment to work is needed to work efficiently.