When your entire team is aligned with a common goal in mind, there’s no doubt that your organization functions at its best. How you can successfully merge your external and internal communication departments instead of working in so-called “silos”? Having your departments function well together may seem like a hurdle, but it is possible! Hear from your peers in last week’s #CommChat about how to create cross-functional communication teams in your organization. It’s not too late to jump in on the conversation, or share with us what you’d like us to cover in future discussions. Tweet us with the #CommChat hashtag to join in.
For a complete recap, check out Twitter Moments. Join in: #CommChat discussions are every Wednesday at 9 a.m. PT on Twitter.
Jumping right in, why do we want/need cross-functionality for our #comms team(s)? What are the long-term benefits?
Q1: They can align people to common goals, drive continuous improvement, reduce cost, enable agility, help build trust, develop new ways of thinking & uncover potential challenges before they’re problems. Orgs that do cross functional teams well stand above the rest. #CommChat
— IABC San Diego (@IABCSanDiego) September 5, 2018
A1: You never know when a key player will be called away by an emergency; ergo, cross-training is insurance that essential work will get done properly and on time. #CommChat
— Bill Spaniel, ABC (@billspaniel) September 5, 2018
Q1: To encourage diversity in thoughts and ideas. Teams and individuals communicate differently and by embracing cross-functionality we are better equipped to communicate effectively and understand our audience. #CommChat
— Bananatag (@bananatag) September 5, 2018
What are some internal best practices to cross-train your team(s)? Where should #comms leaders start?
Q2: I’ve made sure team members supported a variety of departments; they attended team meetings to learn about what every discipline was doing; and we encouraged people to job shadow #CommChat
— priyabates (@priyabates) September 5, 2018
A2: Stretch or developmental opportunities. If someone on your comms team is interested in Digital Media, Media Affairs, et al., consider a short-term assignment that can help develop those skills. A well-rounded communicator can only enhance your business objectives.
— Austin Staton (@AStaton) September 5, 2018
A2. A frank and honest discussion about where current skills and knowledge gap lies for each #internalcomms team member–and who might be best suited to mentor and collaborate with to overcome said deficit. (Also works in the other direction re: external dep’t staff.) #CommChat
— Judy Gombita (@jgombita) September 5, 2018
Are there potential risks when implementing cross-functionality among internal teams? If so, what are they?
A3: You betcha! Risks include increasing complexity, more lag time to respond, need for better leadership, increased possibility of miscommunication or misunderstandings, and #paralysis by #analysis, among others! #CommChat https://t.co/QIJtZdi147
— Craig Fleisher (@craigfleisher) September 5, 2018
— Biswajit Dash (@biswajitdash79) September 5, 2018
A3: Oh boy. Good question! Silos — de-centralized communication where overall picture is missing. In addition, the team itself may start to lose alignment. Comms leaders need to harness their cross-funtional team, being a master communicator! #CommChat
— ElevatePoint (@ElevatePoint) September 5, 2018
As a newly cross-functional team, what are some best practices to identifying bottlenecks and reshaping workflow to ensure deadlines are met?
A4: As with any team, start by setting up some rules of engagement. Standards for response times, decision making, communications methods, etc. And, be sure to make check points to review how things are working. And, check egos at the door! #commchat
— Theresa D. Staples (@prdreamer) September 5, 2018
It’s important to be open about any challenges that are faced by team members. Check-ins, stand-ups, or any format to share feedback is critical. #commchat
— Dynamic Signal (@Dynamic_Signal) September 5, 2018
A4: Bottlenecks are easily avoided by ensuring that all parties are trained. Training is the keyword. QA (Quality Assurance) and streamlining of functions will ensure that all deadlines are met with precision and accuracy. #CommChat https://t.co/PqBscnbcBQ
— Raine Maria (@ReignSuccessful) September 5, 2018
How can work be distributed equitably allowing for a more sustainable workload for your team members? Please feel free to share any tools or resources that you have found to be helpful.
Most important is the team leader, who has a vision to steer the team, identify best traits among all members and allocate/ distribute work accordingly. Regular follow up & appreciation of best performers & encouragement who lag behind. Often carrot & stick may also be applied. https://t.co/IojAgyix7g
— Imran Ghaznavi (@ighaznavi) September 5, 2018
A5: Another great question. Planning and transparency! There will be hgh volume times that should be considered in a calendar year – e.g., benefits enrollment. Trello or Workboard (project-based apps) may help w/ daily, weekly, monthly overflow and inevitable surprises. #CommChat
— ElevatePoint (@ElevatePoint) September 5, 2018
A5. People could use Google sheets or sites like Trello which everyone can access the notes and add to them. This can help everyone be aware of what’s happening #CommChat
— Suman Kher (@Suman_Kher) September 5, 2018