How to Encourage Collaboration in Multidisciplinary Teams

Encouraging teamwork and coordination across departments can be challenging, especially when it involves bringing together individuals with diverse skills and backgrounds to complete a project. To facilitate this, we need strategies that not only encourage teamwork but also bridge the gaps between different teams. Here are some tips for building truly optimizing collaboration in multidisciplinary teams (MDT), emphasizing teamwork across different departments.

Encouraging teamwork through shared goals

While its nice to think that your team are working towards common goals, don’t forget that success means different things to different people says leadership consultant, Charley Morrow

“Members of cross-department and management teams often have different goals that they are pursuing–marketing has a different worldview and set of metrics than does operations, for example. As a result, they have slight misalignment around goals. And, organizations these days are drowning in metrics and measures. Some teams have whole dashboards of measures. It’s little wonder that many teams are confused about their primary goals and measures.”

Charley Morrow

To bring together team members from various departments, with different skills, you need to be clear about what exactly success looks like, and how each person’s role, while different, will contribute to that success.

Charley recommends picking 1-4 key metrics, helping your team understand them and keeping them up to date with progress, even if it doesn’t relate directly to their role.

Embrace Collective Learning

A diverse team, rich in varied skills and perspectives, offers an invaluable chance for every member to expand their knowledge base. As your teams engage in multidisciplinary collaboration, they naturally partake in a continuous learning journey, sharing insights and experiences. By bringing together professionals and practitioners from different backgrounds, multidisciplinary teams can support integration and enable collective learning. Implementing digital collaboration tools like Miro streamlines idea sharing in virtual brainstorming settings and provides immediate feedback on proposals. This not only nurtures creativity but also contributes significantly to individual development and team growth.

Improving Coordination by Understanding Roles

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Managing multidisciplinary team collaboration means you need to have a good understanding of each person’s role says Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Publisher and Editor in Chief of UXmatters

“If you want to be able to work effectively with people in other disciplines and help ensure your product team’s success, you should make a concerted effort to gain sufficient understanding of your team members’ various roles and responsibilities, so you can communicate with them in their own language and respond to their needs.”

Pabini Gabriel-Petit

By understanding everyone’s roles, you can ease tension between team members by helping them to better understand each other.

Use the right tools

There are so many great collaboration tools available online that can help bring your teams together. By providing the right technology, you can facilitate multidisciplinary collaboration, helping teams communicate and stay on task, regardless of their varied skills.

However, in order to truly get the most from these tools, you need to champion them and put time and effort into their adoption says Denis Duvauchelle CEO and co-founder of Twoodo.

“In order for it to be successful, managers and evangelists of the chosen tool must encourage this new culture of openness and exchange. It’s the IT guy’s job to just install, present it, and walk out of the room. Like any new installation (from the new coffee machine to the new email client) an example needs to be set.”

Denis Duvauchelle

Try tools like Contactzilla to keep your team in sync, Basecamp to manage projects or Trello to organize tasks.

Build a community and establish relationships

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Authors and researchers Lynda Gratton and Tamara J. Erickson believe that forming communities in the workplace will aid collaboration significantly…

“Our research shows that new teams, particularly those with a high proportion of members who were strangers at the time of formation, find it more difficult to collaborate than those with established relationships.”

Lynda Gratton

Create opportunities for your teams to bond, not just within their own departments, but across the whole company. This might involve creating a communal games area regular staff days/nights out or weekly or monthly meetings with the whole company.

FAQ’s

What is a multidisciplinary team?

A multidisciplinary team is a group of individuals from different professional backgrounds, each bringing their own specialized expertise to work together on a common goal or project. They bring their unique perspectives, skills, and knowledge to the team, fostering collaboration and innovation.

How do you collaborate with a mdt?

Collaborate in a multidisciplinary team by encouraging open communication, understanding each member’s unique role, aligning on shared objectives, and utilizing collaborative tools for effective coordination and project management.

How do you communicate with a multidisciplinary team?

Communicate with a multidisciplinary team by establishing clear, inclusive communication channels, like instant messaging, regular meetings and digital platforms. Encourage open dialogue, respect diverse perspectives, and ensure transparency in decision-making. Tailor communication styles to suit different roles, fostering a culture of collaboration and mutual understanding.

What are the barriers to effective multidisciplinary team working?

Barriers to effective multidisciplinary team working include communication breakdowns, lack of clear goals, differing departmental cultures, misaligned priorities, and limited understanding of diverse roles. Overcoming these requires strong leadership, mutual respect, and well-defined, shared objectives to ensure cohesive and productive collaboration.

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