4 Keys to Improve Collaboration and Alignment

4 Keys to Improve Collaboration and Alignment

If you ask many who are in tech support or providing service to customers, there is a significant problem affecting many organizations: a lack of collaboration between teams and departments. With new technology, processes, or tools thrust upon technical support teams, many of these team members don’t feel part of the process. It’s not uncommon for team members to perceive a lack of collaboration and misalignment across the organization as a result. One of the root causes is that there is a lack of insight into how vital sharing is between groups. In this article, I'll talk about the importance of collaborating effectively across the organization to not only drive change but to become more aligned as well.

Drive Change and Continuous Improvement

Tech support and service management teams are sometimes stuck in a constant firefighting mode, going from crisis to crisis. Unfortunately, many of the issues that are afflicting these teams are internally created and driven by a lack of collaboration and alignment across an organization. To help with improving not only their experience but the experience of customers, whether they are internal or external, organizations must learn to work better across teams and become more collaborative.

The status quo can no longer be accepted anymore. Continuous innovation and improvement are required to not only meet but exceed the needs of everyone involved. Whether it is small changes like a tweak to a process or a more significant implementation of continuous improvement, such as launching a new tool or substantial piece of infrastructure, team members want to feel like they are part of the process and that their opinions matter. A more collaborative culture is one where everybody wants and feels like their voice is heard, too.

4 Keys to Improving Collaboration

To collaborate more effectively, people must remember that they need to work up, down, and across the organization to drive change. Here are four keys to improving collaboration in your organization that, when implemented effectively, will help your technical support or service management team feel more aligned.

People need to work up, down, and across the organization to drive change.

Key #1: Develop Shared Objectives

Develop shared objectives with other teams. For example, is there a critical project or a service level agreement in place between two or more units that should have shared measures of success? If everyone is aligned on what success looks like while also ensuring that each team has a certain level of accountability for the success of that metric, you're more likely to find that there is collaboration. With greater shared accountability with projects, initiatives, or critical metrics, organizations become more aligned and collaborative overall, because everyone has a stake in the outcome.

Key #2: Communicate More Regularly and Effectively

Far too often, leaders in many teams work in silos or behind walls of bureaucracy or excuses, citing many different reasons why they shouldn't collaborate with others. Yes, sometimes it’s easier to work alone than work together. But no one would argue that you accomplish more as a team than going at it solo. If leaders start to embrace a culture of syncing and sharing more often, they have a chance to be more successful at breaking free of these silos.

Leaders should regularly come together to discuss what's on their plate, what's coming down the pipeline, and some of the challenges that they are facing with their peers. I like to call these sync sessions. On whatever cadence makes sense, leaders should connect with their peers across departments to share what is happening. Who knows, someone could share that their team is tackling a specific initiative that you are interested in or that your team is already working on. It’s better to find overlap and any duplicated efforts as soon as possible. Doing so will reduce waste but improve collaboration. I've personally found that the more you connect, the more you start to eliminate people feeling blindsided and any semblance of resistance to positive change.

Key #3: Use Data to Share More Insights

Technical support and service management teams have a tremendous amount of data within their grasp. Whether it's providing support for customers internally or externally, these teams know so much about the customer experience. To collaborate more effectively, not only should the leaders, but the team members and individual contributors as part of these groups should share what they know about products or services, cross-functionally, to help drive change and continuous improvement. The more data and insights that those providing tech support can share across the organization, the more aligned other departments will be in understanding the customer experience.

Key #4: Align Around the Customer Experience

Customers are the main reason that all businesses exist. The customer experience matters the most. Organizations need to be aligned around the customer to improve collaboration. Tech support and service management teams are often the groups closest to the customer and can share ways to enhance their experience and make it more distinctive and unique. Once an organization is aligned around the customer and has a shared understanding of the critical factors in achieving the ultimate experience for them, then you will start to see collaboration increase.

Become More Aligned Across the Organization

The more that an organization focuses on delivering value internally with team members working better together, the more that silos and walls can come down. A more aligned organization, influenced by tech support and service management groups that embrace the four keys to improving collaboration noted here, will experience improved productivity and satisfaction levels. Since customer satisfaction is closely connected to how satisfied employees are, the more aligned and collaborative an organization is, the happier are its customers, leading to more growth, profits, and shared success for everyone involved.

Lead by example and become more collaborative today. Doing so will give your tech support or service management team a sense of relief that you, as their leader, have their back in helping to drive positive change and continuous improvement within the overall culture.

Chris Hanna