How To
10 min

How to Make Collaboration in Cross-Functional Teams Easier

Soniya Jain
November 20, 2022

What you'll learn

What you'll need

If you’re looking for tips on improving cross-functional collaboration between teams, we’ve got you covered with some tips and best practices to boost productivity across departments.

Cross-functional team collaboration is a necessary evil. In a world where we're expected to make more connections, collaborate more, and work with people who may not be in our silo, it's the only way we get things done.

But collaboration isn't always easy. It can be hard to find common ground, compromise on ideas and perspectives, and navigate the politics of working across teams—especially when you've got a deadline looming over your head.

This guide will discuss why cross-team collaboration is important and how you can make it work for your organization. We'll also give tips to help your team collaborate better, including getting everyone on the same page, keeping projects moving forward when someone leaves, and ensuring teams are aligned.

What is a cross-functional team?

Cross-functional team

Source: Gmelius

A cross-functional team includes members from different departments who work together on a shared goal or project. Cross-functional teams are usually formed to tackle a problem or complete tasks requiring input from multiple departments.

Examples of cross-functional teams

  • A marketing team that includes representatives from sales, customer service, and production.
  • Accounting and engineering department members collaborate on building a new product manufacturing process.
  • A management team with representatives from each department to discuss strategy, goals, and objectives.
  • A group of designers, developers, writers, and project managers work together to build a new website.

Cross-functional teams can be used in any organization, from small businesses to large corporations. They are a great way for companies to work more efficiently and quickly.

Difference between functional and cross-functional teams

The primary difference between a functional and a cross-functional team is the type of activities that each team performs. A functional team consists of members who have similar skills and responsibilities.

A cross-functional team comprises people from various departments with different skills and responsibilities. These teams are often used when a large project requires many unique skill sets.

What are the benefits of cross-functional teams?

Cross-functional teams are a great way to boost productivity, innovation, and collaboration when you know how to do it effectively. They can help you develop new ideas and improve your company's performance.

Here are some of the benefits of establishing cross-functional teams in your workplace.

Make idea generation faster

Multiple ideas are generated at once when you work in a cross-functional environment. Each member brings their own experience and knowledge to the table when trying to find solutions for problems within their organization. 

This can make it easier for businesses to think outside the box when developing new ideas for their company or product line.

Foster better communication and collaboration among employees

Cross-functional teams encourage employees to work together and communicate on their own teams and across the organization, which helps build trust between departments and foster a strong company culture. 

This helps employees feel like they're part of something bigger than themselves—that they're contributing to the company's overall success. It improves employee satisfaction and makes them more likely to stay with the company long term.

Encourages innovation through collaboration

Cross-functional teams encourage collaboration and creativity by having members with different backgrounds, skill sets, or areas of expertise. 

This can lead to more effective problem solving when facing challenges or roadblocks during a project or service delivery process because everyone works together.

Create a sense of shared responsibility

When everyone has a stake in the outcome of something, they'll be more motivated to do their best work—even if they don't get direct credit for it. This is because they are all responsible for each other's success and their own. When you work in a team like this, there is a lot more accountability, and you have to be able to rely on your co-workers.

Increase team productivity and performance

Having multiple people working on the same project can increase productivity because each person brings specific skills and knowledge that help move the project along more quickly. In addition, each individual is incentivized to work as hard as possible, since their efforts directly impact the overall project's success.

Eliminate workplace silos

Cross-functional teams allow employees to meet people they wouldn't otherwise have contact with, which can help break down silos by understanding how others think and operate. This can also help employees learn new skills they can use in their roles and future projects.

What are the challenges of cross-functional teams?

Many companies are adopting cross-functional teams to get more done in less time. While this strategy can be effective, it can also be challenging for employees to adapt.

Employees have often been trained to work in their departments and silos for years. Breaking out of that comfort zone can be difficult, particularly if they don't have the proper support and training.

Here are some challenges your employees might face while working on cross-functional teams.

Collaborating with remote teams in different time zones

When your team is distributed across different time zones, aligning work schedules and coordinating cross-functional communication can be challenging. You may juggle multiple schedules to ensure everyone is on the same page. This can be difficult when working with people in different countries or states.

Social loafing

Social loafing is the tendency for individuals to exert less effort when working together in groups instead of individually. People tend to get complacent when working together because they assume other team members will take care of specific tasks and thus become less productive than when working alone. Social loafing can significantly impact cross-functional teams because it contributes to uneven workloads and decreased productivity.

Different priorities and goals

In a cross-functional team, team members come from different departments and may have other priorities and goals. This can be a big problem because, at times, it will lead to conflicts.

These conflicting agendas will probably cause friction among team members who don't agree with one another's ideas or methods of achieving their goals. The result is that they will be less likely to collaborate or communicate effectively with one another, which could harm your project's outcome (and potentially damage your relationship with clients).

Resistance to change

It's easy for employees who resist change to cause problems in a cross-functional team because they're not used to working together. They may have different ideas about what tasks they should complete first or how best to complete a task. These disagreements could cause delays in getting things done and ultimately slow down productivity and success.

12 tips to improve collaboration in a cross-functional team

Cross-functional teams are a great way to bring together people with different skills, perspectives, and experiences. Here are some tips to help your team collaborate better.

1. Get the right people on your team

In cross-functional teams, a team member should be able to work with people from other functions and understand the importance of working together.

Some people thrive in environments that value individual work, while others are more productive when working in a team. To build a high-performance cross-functional team, you need to pick the right people who can work together toward a common goal.

There are three main types of an employee:

  1. An experienced person who has completed their training and has been promoted to be an expert in their field; for example, a sales manager or marketing manager.
  2. A person is willing to learn new things quickly; for example, an engineer or accountant.
  3. An individual enjoys sharing knowledge with others; for example, a software engineer or graphic designer.

The right person must be able to get along with everyone else on the team, including people with different opinions and methods of working than their own. They also need to work under pressure without becoming stressed out or angry.

The success of a cross-functional team depends on how well its members can work together as a unit. Hence, it's essential to have the right mix of people with different skills, talents, and interests.

2. Create key performance indicators

A key performance indicator (KPI) is a quantifiable measure that helps you understand how effectively your team meets its goals and objectives. It allows you to see how each part of your organization contributes to the overall objective, what's working and what isn't, so you can adjust accordingly.

Having common KPIs helps everyone in the team understand their role and how they can contribute towards achieving the overall objective. It also helps them know when they are meeting their targets and if they need to take action themselves or ask someone else for help.

Choosing KPIs that are easy for you to track and meaningful for your customers and stakeholders is also important. For example, if your goal is to increase customer satisfaction by 10%, tracking how many users are logged in at any given moment doesn't make sense.

Examples of KPIs

  1. Initiative: How often does the team use new ideas and innovations?
  2. Collaboration: How well does the team work with other teams?
  3. Results: How well do members of the team achieve their goals?
  4. Teamwork: How often do team members work together and communicate effectively?
  5. Productivity: How efficiently does the team use its resources?
  6. Creativity: How often does the team come up with new ideas?
  7. Accountability: How well does the team hold each other accountable for their work?
  8. Efficiency: How quickly does the team get things done?
  9. Customer satisfaction: How happy are customers with the product or service?
  10. Employee engagement: How much do employees enjoy their work and feel they're making a difference?

Once you know how your teams are doing in each category, you can start identifying areas that need improvement.

3. Select the right tech

The right technology can make all the difference for cross-team collaboration. It can help you track progress, improve efficiency, and boost morale.

Here are three things to consider when choosing the best tech for cross-team collaboration.

1. What kind of software do you want?

Many different types of software can help you collaborate with other teams. Here are some software options to consider.

Collaboration tools like Slack and Jira let you share files and messages with teammates in real-time. These tools often have open APIs or bots that allow developers to build on top of them.

Project management software like Trello and Asana let you track tasks and communicate with your team in an organized way

2. What's your budget?

Collaboration software is sometimes free or low-cost, but paid versions allow for more features and customization. Your budget will determine which features are available to you, so make sure to account for this in your planning process.

3. How big is your team?

Any software should work fine for managing tasks and communicating with other teams if you're working alone. But if you're part of a larger organization, there are some specific considerations when choosing the right collaboration software.

So, the right technology for your team will depend on your unique needs. The best way to find out what will work best is to try a few different collaboration software types and see which works best for your team.

4. Establish a centralized communication method

Centralized communication allows all team members to communicate through one channel of information. In other words, you should have one communication tool that enables you to communicate with all your teammates no matter where they are.

Tips for establishing centralized communication for cross-team collaboration

  • Create a company-wide Slack channel for all employees.
  • Set up a shared calendar for everyone to see.
  • Decide on a communication protocol.
  • Create a shared workspace where employees can store documents and files.
  • Develop an internal wiki page where employees can post questions about the new system or process being implemented in the company.

Centralized communication ensures everyone works together and has access to the same information at all times. This will allow you to streamline your internal processes and free up employees' time to focus on important projects.

5. Have a team charter

A team charter is a document that lists the goals and responsibilities of the team, and the team members create it.

Components of a team charter for cross-functional teamwork

Source: Asana

The charter aims to help people working in different departments or on various projects get along better by giving them a shared sense of purpose and goals.

It also helps them understand how their work fits into the bigger picture, which can reduce conflict and confusion when they need to collaborate with others on different teams.

Steps to create a team charter to get everyone on the same page

  1. Identify the purpose of your team.
  2. Determine your top three priorities.
  3. Set measurable goals for each priority.
  4. Create an action plan for achieving those goals.

A well-written charter helps people understand what you're doing and why you're doing it, making it more likely for people to get behind your efforts.

6. Keep team meetings productive

The main challenge of team meetings is that they are not the best way to get tasks done. Meetings are often the most inefficient use of time, which is why many people dread them so much.

If you want to keep your team meetings productive, establish a structure and stick to it.

Tips for productive cross-functional team meetings

  1. Setting the agenda in advance.
  2. Creating a schedule for each meeting.
  3. Beginning with introductions.
  4. Reviewing what was accomplished last time.
  5. Going over action items from previous sessions.
  6. Discussing new ideas.
  7. Making decisions.
  8. Moving on to the next steps.

If none of your team members have an agenda, it's okay to skip the meeting and reschedule it for another time. It's better to be short-staffed for one meeting than to have a series of unproductive meetings that you could have avoided with a little planning.

7. Assign a single point of contact for each team

In a cross-team collaboration environment, there's a good chance that each team will have multiple people working with each other. This can be problematic because it requires communication between people to get anything done.

You can avoid this by having one person from each team, sometimes a team leader, as the single point of contact for any information or feedback that might need to be shared between groups.

Benefits of a single point of contact for each team

  • It ensures that every employee knows who to contact when they have questions or problems.
  • It establishes that every employee recognizes who they should go to if they need any help or assistance with something.
  • It makes it easier for employees to get the answers they need when they have queries regarding work or even personal matters related to the workplace.

This is an easy way to ensure that no one slips through the cracks when coordinating efforts across teams.

8. Encourage team members to share their work

When someone shares the details of their work, they enable others in the team to better understand what needs to be done. This helps the team achieve its goals faster and more effectively.

Sharing work also allows for more effective communication between team members because they can collaborate when they need help completing tasks or projects.

Tips to encourage team members to share their work

Make it easy for them

Choose tools that make sharing content easy and intuitive, such as Google Drive, Dropbox (or any other similar platform).

Set clear expectations

Discuss with your team members how they should share their work, and let them know what kind of feedback you will provide. This will ensure that everyone understands how best to use these platforms for collaboration. You may also need to set up rules for what types of content should be shared on these platforms (e.g., only documents that multiple people have reviewed).

Encourage feedback

When a team member shares new information or ideas with other group members, ask others to provide feedback. Depending on the project's requirements, they can do this via a discussion or in writing. This will help build a culture of collaboration within your company.

The key to fostering a collaborative culture is creating a space where your team members feel comfortable sharing their work.

9. Focus on the positive during the conflict

Conflicts are inevitable in cross-team collaboration. A conflict occurs when two or more people or groups have different interests and goals, resulting in disagreements about what they should do.

Common causes of conflict in a cross-functional team

  • Two members of the team have different opinions about how to proceed.
  • A team member feels uncomfortable asking questions or offering suggestions.
  • Someone isn't willing to compromise by adjusting their position to meet the needs of others.
  • Team members feel like they're not a part of the decision-making process.

When you're in the middle of a conflict situation, it's easy to get caught up in the emotions and lose sight of what you were trying to accomplish in the first place. This leads to arguments and finger-pointing, which will only make things worse.

If you're experiencing conflict in your collaborative efforts, try focusing on the positive outcome instead of the negative one. By doing so, you'll start looking at the root cause of your problem instead of getting caught up in its symptoms.

For example, a team member feels frustrated or overwhelmed by their work. Instead of focusing on why this bothers you, try looking at it from a different angle. What is the outcome you want? This person may need more resources or training if it's getting more done in less time.

Focusing on the positive outcome can help you resolve conflict faster by getting everyone on the same page regarding their goals and expectations.

10. Use your collaboration tools for fun activities

To help facilitate cooperation and collaboration in cross-teams, try using fun activities in your meetings.

It's a great way for a cross-functional team to learn how to work more effectively.

These activities encourage teamwork, creativity, and even cheerfulness. They can also be used as icebreakers when you're trying to build relationships with new team members or get everyone involved in the same cross-functional project.

Ideas for using collaboration tools for team-building activities

  1. Create a poll about a topic that interests everyone on your team. You can ask people if they prefer blue or green M&M's or their favorite season.

  1. Create a survey about which songs everyone prefers or other questions that will spark conversation among the group. You could even have each person pick their favorite song from a playlist and see who's closest to their choices.

  1. Create a list of funny quotes by famous people or comedians that relate to your industry or company culture—this will help everyone feel more connected with each other because they'll be able to connect through humor!

  1. Have everyone share their favorite snacks on Friday afternoon, so everyone gets a chance to try something new. You can create a snack buffet with different types of food so people can get creative and try something they wouldn't normally eat!

One of the best ways to use gamification for cross-team collaboration is by hosting activities that allow team members from different departments or locations to come together for fun activities that encourage collaboration and teamwork.

11. Leverage subject matter experts

For cross-team collaboration to succeed, everyone must have a shared understanding of the situation. This is where subject matter experts (SMEs) come in.

SMEs are individuals with extensive knowledge of a subject who can provide insights and information that others may not have access to. They're usually the people who work on it every day or study it intensely.

Subject matter experts often have different experiences than others on your team. This can lead to fresh ideas when solving problems or addressing an issue plaguing your organization for weeks or months.

SMEs bring years of experience and knowledge about their specific area of work. They can give valuable suggestions about solutions that may not be obvious to others who don't have their level of expertise.

12. Reward collaboration

It is tempting to think of collaboration as a group activity, but it is equally important to recognize that individuals can collaborate. This is especially true when it comes to the workplace.

It is important to have an environment that rewards collaboration, both within teams and between them, so that employees can feel confident about continuing to work together toward a common goal.

Ways to reward employees for collaboration

Make them feel good about their contributions

The best way to reward employees is by ensuring they feel they're making a difference and that their efforts are being noticed by their supervisors and co-workers.

Give them autonomy over their work hours or workloads

This works well for employees who already take pride in their work and want more responsibility over how they perform it—provided that you don't push them too far outside their comfort zones.

Recognition and rewards

Recognition and rewards for employees

Source: Glassdoor

You can recognize and reward employees for collaborating with others on cross-team projects. 

These might include an employee of the month award, a special plaque or certificate, or an increase in pay or benefits.

The reward system is an integral part of the culture of your company. You must have a clear and well-communicated reward structure to encourage collaboration across teams.

Collaboration tools for cross-functional remote teams

Collaboration tools can help cross-teams work together more effectively. Choosing the right tool that fits your company and team structure is important. 

Here are some of the tools that can make your collaboration easier. is an AI-powered copywriting tool that helps businesses create the right content for their target audience. It makes life easier for marketers, salespeople, and customer service representatives across industries. can improve cross-team collaboration by providing a consistent voice across the entire organization. It can also help team members document and share insights from their work.

With, marketers can create consistent messaging across all channels, which helps them build stronger relationships with customers and leads to more conversions. It also makes it easier for salespeople to close deals by creating personalized proposals for each prospect.


Zoom is an online conferencing platform that you can use to host meetings and calls. It offers simple yet powerful features that make it easier for teams to work together.

While there are many other tools, Zoom stands out because of its ease of use, mobile compatibility, and excellent customer service. 

Here are some ways Zoom can improve cross-team collaboration:

  1. The ability to share content with participants during a meeting.
  2. The ability to record sessions to review later on.
  3. An easy way for attendees to join a meeting remotely (from anywhere).


Notion is a powerful, collaborative tool for managing projects and documents. It's for teams that must collaborate on large amounts of content—from brainstorming ideas to writing reports. Notion offers a simple interface that makes it easy for everyone in your organization to understand how they can contribute.

With Notion, you can easily create a central hub for all your team members to collaborate on a project or a task. You can also work together on documents in real-time and in organized ways. You can create and sell Notion templates if you're the creative type. The best part is you can do this at scale with our AI writing tools, many of which are free to use.


Slack is a messaging tool that allows you to communicate with your team in an organized way while also providing a space for collaboration. You can create channels where you and your co-workers can discuss different aspects of the project or topic. This ensures that everyone on the team knows their responsibilities and how they fit into the bigger picture.

Integrations are also available for other apps, so if one of your team members uses another tool like Trello or Basecamp, they can easily sync it up with their account in Slack.

Monday is a project management tool that allows you to create tasks, assign them to specific users and then track the progress. It has an easy-to-use interface that will enable you to focus on your projects instead of wasting time trying to figure out how everything works.

The best part of is that it's effortless to use—anyone can learn how to use the platform within minutes. This makes it ideal for organizations where different teams are working on various projects but need to collaborate.

Final thoughts on collaboration in cross-functional teams

Collaboration is a crucial part of effective teamwork. In cross-functional teams, it's even more critical because different team members have different perspectives and experiences that can help solve problems and make decisions.

This is why it’s important to get the right people on your teams, establish KPIs, choose project management tools that will make your teams more efficient, as well as streamline communication across departments.

By encouraging everyone to share their ideas and listen carefully when others speak, you create an environment where everyone feels heard—leading to better collaboration.

But you have to be patient and flexible. You can't expect everyone to agree on everything; there will always be differences of opinion and conflicting priorities when working across different departments. That's why it's essential to set aside time for discussion and debate so that everyone feels comfortable expressing their views—even if they don't always agree.

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