Economics/Business

What is a multidisciplinary team/interdisciplinary team/characteristics

A multidisciplinary team is a group of professionals with different skills and experiences that complement each other and constitute a heterogeneous core of knowledge.

Having a multidisciplinary team can bring unique benefits to the company. By bringing together a wide variety of professionals with different skills and knowledge, it is possible to broaden the conversation, solve problems and get faster and more efficient results . 

However, before starting any process, it is important to understand what exactly this term means and how to apply it in practice in order to achieve a transformation in most organizational applications.

What is a multidisciplinary team?

A multidisciplinary team is a team that brings together professionals with different skills, experiences and behavioral profiles, in order to create a team that complements each other. 

This variety is critical to ensuring that projects are discussed broadly, with the aim of creating better solutions and outcomes. 

In addition, this plurality allows companies to promote an inclusive culture with different experiences in the work environment.

The multidisciplinary team system originally emerged in the healthcare sector, with professionals from different disciplines providing specific services to a single patient

Each one coordinates its services independently, but in a work carried out together to achieve the common objective, in this case, to promote the patient’s health.

The same principle can and should be applied in any company , in order to create efficient teams that help to achieve the expected results more quickly and objectively.

Differences between multidisciplinary team and interdisciplinary team

To better understand what a multidisciplinary team is, it is worth paying attention to the differences between a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary team.

In general , a multidisciplinary team is composed of different professionals working on separate parts of the same project . 

In this structure, each member acts as part of a chain of responsibilities, almost like a race in which one athlete passes the baton to the other.

In practice, a multidisciplinary product development team, for example, will have design, engineering, marketing , operational, manufacturing and management professionals, all acting in their roles to provide a solution to the need at hand.

Interdisciplinary teams, however, work differently. In these teams, professionals from different areas are expected to contribute ideas to the entire project , not just the part that belongs to their area of ​​expertise. 

It is common for interdisciplinary teams to have multi-professionals who share disparate ideas, but who are honed towards a common goal.

What are the characteristics of a multidisciplinary team?

As already mentioned, a multidisciplinary team conducts its work based on principles shared by all the professionals on the team . 

Team members will have common denominators as well as individual skills to develop in line with their abilities.

If, on the one hand, the exchange between professionals from different areas tends to be very large, on the other hand, these common denominators act as links that guarantee the good development of the project.

Therefore, it is essential that a multidisciplinary team has a sharp communication between all professionals. After all, any communication failure can unbalance the progress of processes.

Sharing ideas, collaboration and co-creation are also extremely important so that all the different skill sets become complementary to each other, and all mechanisms actually work.

Why is a multidisciplinary team important within a company?

Betting on multidisciplinary teams brings several benefits to any company, especially through the sharing of experiences among all the professionals involved. Among the main benefits, we highlight the following.

Diversity

The more diverse a multidisciplinary team, the more diverse the ideas and solutions proposed by the team. 

By counting on specialists in different areas, personal and professional experiences are also different, which expands the visions regarding the project.

The variety of experiences is also essential to diversify the work processes themselves, through professionals with effective qualifications and focused on a common point. 

The more people aiming for the success of the same product or activity, the better.

At the end of the day, the more professionals with different perspectives, the more “outside the box” thoughts the company will have.

Creativity and innovation

If diversity is great in a multidisciplinary team, so is creativity. And this is an extremely rich point for any company. 

As multidisciplinary teams have professionals from different areas, ideas are more plural and rich .

The large number of different experiences and visions makes it possible to create innovative suggestions and solutions that would probably not be thought of in a unidisciplinary team, with people who have the same professional background.

Creativity and innovation are leveraged in this type of team. Especially since each person on the team is able to contribute effectively , applying their level of knowledge in each subject. 

And all of that knowledge inspired the team to see the collective big picture, in addition to their own points of view.

Autonomy

A multidisciplinary team tends to be much more autonomous. This is because professionals have different talents and are free to focus on their tasks with more diligence and dedication. 

While communication can be a challenging part of a multidisciplinary team, the team will work best when its members practice empathy and actively listen when sharing views among colleagues. 

Once that happens, a multidisciplinary team becomes a power of communication and autonomy, with professionals who can easily communicate with each other, no matter how different their skills are.

Productivity

With creativity and autonomy flowing well, a team’s productivity also benefits.

Problem solving happens faster , as well as taking advantage of ideas that can benefit processes.

All this diversity is also a motivating valve for the team members themselves. 

And motivation is another ingredient that contributes to increased productivity as a final result.

By having specialists in different areas, decision-making in a multidisciplinary team also tends to be safer and more accurate. After all, the investigation was based on plural perspectives.

Tips for managing a multidisciplinary team

Assembling a multidisciplinary team within a company can be simpler than many managers imagine . 

Although each team must take into account the specific characteristics of the work and the professionals involved, some tips can help when managing a multidisciplinary team. Check out!

Define everyone’s tasks

Even having professionals with different skills, it is important that the manager of a multidisciplinary team defines in detail what the functions of each team member are .

Maintaining an organization of the processes is essential, especially to ensure that no step is affected because an employee still has doubts about their role within a given project.

Managers must also show that they understand the needs and individualities of each employee, without treating them as a mass of equal employees.

think about the collective

While the individual functions must be well defined, it is very important that the manager of a multidisciplinary team thinks about strategies that strengthen the collective of the team . 

The manager must emphasize that the team only wins when it plays together, and that everyone’s collaboration — including ideas and solutions — is critical to overall success.

Invest in communication

As we said earlier, a multidisciplinary team needs to have very good communication between all its members . 

While it’s great to have such diverse professionals, aligning communication that works for everyone can be a challenge, so it needs attention.

An open and direct communication facilitates conversation among professionals, including ensuring that all processes benefit of these dialogues to be well run.

At this point, managers also need to ensure that they are also offering an open channel for conversations with all members , even so that everyone understands what the functional communication model is for the entire team.

offer feedback

The feedbacks are valuable in any company. However, for a multidisciplinary team this point is even more relevant, precisely because this feedback will point out what can be improved within the team as a whole.

Remember that, in order to be effective, the feedbacks need to happen with a certain frequency , and contemplate the evaluation of the professional’s performance individually and collectively.

This feedback also manages to ensure a better balance in the development of collaborative ways to complement the team and adjust what is needed to ensure the multidisciplinary of the entire team.

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