The Crucial Missing Piece Of Cross-Team Communication

Communication can make or break an organisation. There is huge potential for it to help cross-organisational teams flawlessly execute complex projects. But in order for this to happen, there needs to be a proper structure in place. Otherwise, cross-team collaboration could end up harming the project more than it benefits it.

With many potential cross-team collaboration challenges, organisations that take this approach need to be properly structured, organised, and managed. In this blog post, we will explore a key piece that is often missing with cross-team communication and discuss how to solve this problem.

What’s Missing From Cross-Team Communication: Strong Leadership


A research focusing on 95 cross-functional teams in 25 leading corporations found out that 75% of the focus group was dysfunctional. The main reason for this was the lack of leadership.

A lack of proper leadership is one thing that is often missing from cross-team communication. Teams need to be able to collaborate and get everyone involved, and this can only be done effectively if there is a proper leadership system in place.

If there is a lack of governance and accountability, no one is there to hold team members responsible for their work. Certain team members may not be completing their tasks properly or within schedule, whereas others might not feel comfortable holding them accountable for this or calling them out. 

Decision-making is another challenging thing to get right. Information silos often occur because people with different areas of expertise might be accustomed to different ways of working. There needs to be a leader making clear decisions on the direction of the project.

A lack of leadership can also affect goals, which may not be specific enough. As a result, team members may work towards different things or have a skewed view of what they’re meant to be working towards. A leader helps keep cross-functional teams aligned and working toward achieving the same goal.


Example Of Leading Cross-Team Communication: Case Cisco


A good example of cross-team communication success comes from the multinational technology conglomerate Cisco. In the mid-2000s, Cisco created a cross-functional team which involved representatives from various areas and used a three-layer structure for leadership. This model saw the business grow at a rate of 80% per year for five years straight.

Around 100 people were able to attend the team meetings. Of these hundred people, there was a core group that consisted of 20 people who communicated information back to their functions. Lastly, they had a high-level governance team of two people at the top. 

Their entire cross-communication system was structured around a strong framework of leadership. In this case, having leaders from each function made communication more efficient. It also ensured that every function in the organisation was in the loop and that each team and team member was working on the right tasks and goals.

Cross-team communication fails when teams aren’t able to address issues with the management. Thus, projects will run over budget or schedule without seeing success. In the example above, these risks were mitigated by making use of employee involvement across the board, and deploying a system of governance that sets a clear framework for the whole collaboration.


How To Ensure Effective Cross-Team Communication


Here are some ways that organisations can ensure effective cross-team collaboration with strong leadership:


1. Have a Team Leader to Keep the Deadline and Communication Going Across the Team


As we’ve outlined, a lack of leadership is one of the biggest cross-team collaboration challenges. Having a clear decision-making process and a responsible person in place helps keep the flow of the project moving along swiftly and gives team members someone of authority to turn to.

Without a team or project lead in place to keep the deadline and communication going, cross-team communication could be all over the place. Confusion could arise, teams could stray away from their objectives, and complex decisions could be difficult to get past.

Never overlook leadership when implementing cross-team collaboration.


2. Set Clear Objectives, Channels, and KPIs for the Team


Key performance indicators (KPIs) and objectives are essential for the success of any project. When you’re taking a cross-team collaboration approach, they become even more important. 

To implement strong management systems and keep teams on the right track, everyone needs to have a clear understanding of what they’re working towards. This gives cross-functional teams a sense of clarity on what they need to do and achieve.


3. Ensure Transparent Communication and Prevent Information Silos From Forming


Communication is critical for the success of any team. As such, team members should be able to easily communicate and maintain clarity throughout the project.

This is necessary for avoiding information silos. Transparent communication ensures that everyone stays on track, has up-to-date information to work with, and focuses on the right tasks.


4. Ensure That The Team Has the Right Tools to Work With


The right collaboration tools make management and employee involvement far easier. For cross-functional teams to work well together, they need to stay up to date with the right information.

In addition, team leaders need to be able to easily monitor the progress of team members and projects. As such, having the right software and tools in place is essential.


Final Thoughts


Many organisations miss the mark when it comes to cross-team communication. This can have a drastic effect on the end-results of their projects.

By introducing the right leadership structure, cross-collaboration teams can achieve far greater levels of success. This is one thing that is often overlooked, but it is crucial for collaborative success.

If your organisation is looking for a tool to involve all employees across various departments to report what they observe, have a look at It enables your staff to collaborate in safety and other matters, create clarity on non-conformities, prevent and decrease the amount of friction in cross-team communications, and gather actionable data in the process.  

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Kaarle Parikka

Head of Marketing