High functioning teams are a big part of completing successful clinical trials. Working with a cross-functional team can be rewarding as you get the opportunity to interact with new people, get exposed to new ideas and fresh perspectives, and most importantly, work towards a common goal. At times, it can be challenging due to busy schedules, conflicting priorities, and unfamiliar faces. To ensure a successful clinical trial, balancing the drive for results and the cultivation of positive workplace relationships is essential.
Here are 5 ways to use empathy, communication, and relationships to optimize this balance in the short- and long-term.
- Understand that everyone has a lot on their plate.
When you work in the clinical research trial industry, everything is time sensitive. Sites are waiting to hear from the CRO’s Site Management team to know whether they are ready for the first patient. Patients are waiting for results. Doctors are waiting for insight that will help them treat their patients. No matter your position, everyone is waiting for something from somewhere else and needs to hear back urgently.
When everything is urgent, it’s important to remember that everyone has a lot on their plate to track and they might be spread thin. If you need information from someone else, framing your requests in an empathic light that considers their endless responsibilities may make a difference in how quickly they get back to you. For instance, “I know you’ve been swamped with other requests because of the new project, but would you be able to provide me with resources to learn about the new enrollment report template?” might fare better than “I need your help to learn more about the new enrollment report template. Let me know when you’ve got time.” Additionally, providing context of the request and an explanation of its urgency will give the other person the opportunity to assess timelines and re-prioritize as necessary.
- Get to know the other teams.
Before you seek out help on an urgent request or a project, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with other departments, their processes and what their contributions are to the organization and the clinical trial. It’s easier to know what to ask for when you know what each team works on and how teams work together. Something as simple as, “Hello, how are you? When you get a chance, could we chat about the proposal process? I have a few questions I’d like to ask you.” is a great way to break the ice and learn more.
- Help each other out.
Reciprocity in workplace relationships is as vital as it is in personal relationships. Knowing that you can rely on your coworkers and colleagues for assistance, and that they can rely on you, is uplifting and fosters trust, mutual respect and interdependence. Helping out other departments on their projects also encourages cross-functional collaboration and reduces the silo effect.
- Communicate with each other.
If you’re working on a project that involves other departments, it’s essential to define roles and responsibilities, establish clear, concise expectations and timelines, and openly communicate on status updates. With clear definitions, expectations and timelines in place, it’s easier to track who’s working on what, when it’s due, and how it should be done. Planning is even more impactful when everyone is involved in the process and is welcomed to provide input.
Each department may have its own preferences for communication. In addition to using an internal ticketing system, one department might prefer email updates while another might prefer in-person reminders. Figuring this out early on may make the difference in responsiveness and prioritization.
- Leverage other internal resources.
Sometimes, you might be in a situation where you need help from someone who is pulled in a dozen different directions and may not have time to meet with you directly. Reaching out to others who work with the person on a daily basis and looping them on the request could be a useful tool. In example, if you have a question for the Trial Lead and they’re busy with other priorities, it might be advantageous to let the Project Manager know and ask to organize a meeting. If the Trial Lead doesn’t have availability to meet, the Project Manager could bring up your question when they interact with the Trial Lead.
There is a lot we can all do to help develop healthy and positive cross-functional teams. At BioTel Research, we regularly incorporate these methods when we work with cross-functional teams. You probably use many of these already and may have others. In the spirit of collaboration, consider sharing with your co-workers, colleagues, and teams!