8 tips for better multidisciplinary collaboration

Employees from different disciplines need to collaborate to achieve common goals. Here's how you can smooth and improve the process.

TEAM COLLABORATION | 6 MINUTE READ
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When you bring together a diverse group of people with different skills, attitudes and ways of doing things, it won’t be a surprise that things don’t always run like clockwork. But you can’t underestimate the importance of multidisciplinary teamwork and effective team collaboration – it’s vital to the success of any organization.

The benefits of multidisciplinary collaboration
The benefits of multidisciplinary collaboration

Multidisciplinary teams can bring together a range of different but complementary skills to tackle projects as an autonomous group, without the need to go back and forth between different departments. In that way, they offer a more holistic and efficient approach to problem solving.

With a range of experience and knowledge at the table, multidisciplinary team members can learn from each other’s expertise and develop new skills. And having more diversity of perspectives can lead to greater innovation and creativity, as well as helping avoid the dangers of groupthink.

Multidisciplinary collaboration can also encourage a sense of community and improve employee engagement. Team members can feel more ownership of the outcomes of their work because they’re able to see the project as a whole rather than working in their usual silos.

By streamlining workflows, multidisciplinary collaboration can improve communication between employees who might otherwise be separated in different departments. As well as increasing productivity, this can help with aligning the goals and needs of different stakeholders to find an approach that meets their shared objectives.

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Multidisciplinary collaboration tips

Multidisciplinary collaboration tips

Here are some tips to help you build collaborative multidisciplinary teams.

1. Understand who does what and why

Members of a multidisciplinary team will have different qualifications, training, and methods of working. This can create a ‘them and us’ culture, which isn’t good for team spirit. It’s not only vital that everyone has a good understanding of their own role, but that they appreciate what others do too. Better understanding between team members goes a long way to ease any tensions that might have crept into your workplace.

2. Learn from each other

Having a team made up of people with different skills and ideas is a huge opportunity for all employees to broaden their knowledge. When your teams are collaborating, they’re continually learning new things from each other. Even when physically separated, multidisciplinary teams can use collaboration tools to bounce ideas off each other through virtual brainstorming sessions. These platforms also enable team members to give instant feedback to suggestions, which can help foster creativity and aid personal growth.

3. Respect other points of view

Bringing together people with different backgrounds and skills can cause conflict and personality clashes. There may also be a tendency to look down on certain roles within the group. It’s essential that all team members have the opportunity to voice their opinions, and that they’re encouraged to be open to the feedback and ideas of others.

Respectful communication is key to making sure multidisciplinary teams feel confident sharing ideas and concerns, and you may need to set some guidelines as a team to achieve this. Teams should recognize that one goal of team collaboration is enabling every member to bring different viewpoints and skills to help achieve common goals. Encourage your team to celebrate differences and not dismiss them.

4. Prevent power struggles

It’s often difficult to know who has the most authority in multidisciplinary teams. Certain team members may have more status than others. Some may compete for control and egos may get in the way at team meetings. Others can feel marginalized if they don’t feel the team holds their discipline on an equal footing. While it may be appropriate for individual team members to take the lead where they have the most relevant skills and expertise, in a team environment, no one individual is always the boss. Leaders have to learn to follow.

5. Cut the confusing jargon

Workers often use jargon and buzzwords that become second nature to them. But phrases that might be clearly understood by certain groups within the team may be completely baffling for others. So make sure your teams cut the jargon and use simple language. The same goes for any technical aspects of the project that may need explaining.

6. Make sure meeting time is well-spent

Studies suggest that knowledge workers in the UK waste about 5 days of working time a year in ‘avoidable’ meetings and calls. To avoid hampering productivity and being disrespectful of your team’s time, make sure team meetings are effective and efficiently run.

When updating team members, think about whether a meeting is truly necessary or whether you could give them the information in a less time-consuming way. And if a meeting is needed, make sure your team has time to prepare so the meeting can truly accomplish its objectives.

7. Build a community within the workplace

Forging strong relationships at work can aid collaboration and employee engagement significantly. Create opportunities for your teams to bond. This could involve anything from online team building exercises to a communal games area or regular staff nights out.

8. Use the right communication tools

With hybrid working here to stay, multidisciplinary teams must embrace online collaboration tools to keep people in the loop, foster team spirit and encourage the conversation to flow.

According to Gartner, 80% of the workers they surveyed were using collaboration tools for work even by 2021. While a study by Kinsey found that companies that used social technology, like platforms with instant messaging, as a way to communicate within teams could increase their productivity by 20-25%.

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