1. Building a Cross-Functional Team
The simplest definition of building a cross-functional team is to put together a group of people with different functional expertise so that they can use their expertise to achieve a common goal. Cross-functional teams are a competitive advantage for an organization. They’re like superhero team-ups, where different individuals with different sets of unique abilities will work together for one common purpose. Every organization has potential resources scattered within in the form of various departments—HR, Marketing, Sales, Production, Purchasing, Accounting, Research, etc. Bring them all together and here’s what you will get:
- The team will be more productive.
- The team will improve coordination and communication.
- The team will span organizational boundaries.
- The team will lead to better decision making.
- The team will improve problem-solving.
- The team will reduce the overall project management cycle time.
Of course, nothing comes just like that. You also have to find the right people with the right mind-set who are ready to share their knowledge and be open to changes. The team will reduce the overall project management cycle time.
Tips to Create Top-Performing Cross-Functional Teams
- Bring diversity in your organization
At first, people often assume that cross-functional teams encourage diversity because they are made up of individuals from distinct functional areas. But that’s not all. A good cross-functional environment includes teams with individuals of different experience, age, gender, location, skills, seniority, and engagement.
- Assemble the Right Team
There are a set of skills that are required to have an effective cross-functional team. The project will dictate some of these. The work is going to require a range of expertise from the team, and therefore that team must have people on it who have the various skills needed. But the shared skills each team member must have to create a well-oiled machine is often overlooked. It takes a certain type of person to work together in such a unique setting.
- Keep the goals aligned
The next step is to keep every individual and team goal aligned with the company objectives. You need to ensure that everyone in your organization is rowing in the same direction irrespective of their responsibilities. Usually, companies that more closely aligned goals across their organization enjoy higher levels of financial success. Teams and individuals should clearly understand the connection between their efforts and the overall goals of their employers. If you need precision in your goal-setting process, try visualizing your projects on a visual management board.
- Include influencers/subject matter experts
Every organization has individuals who know more than usual about stuff like processes, procedures, products, and customers. These are the individuals that can inspire others and give helpful advice. Make sure that such individuals are involved in cross-functional teamwork.
- Stop over-relying on meetings (let people bump into each other and chat)
You and your cross-functional teams shouldn’t always rely on meetings for every action or decision. It’s time-consuming. Secondly, there are plenty of great team collaboration apps such as Kanbanize, ProofHub, Slack, Glip, Github etc. Such solutions make it easy for everyone to communicate and check the progress status of tasks or projects from anywhere, at any time.
- Embrace automation and technological advancements
Today’s technology-driven economy plays a crucial role in increasing employees’ engagement. A majority of employees out there are looking for career opportunities where they can embrace technology for growth and success. So, when you are making efforts to build a cross-functional team, be sure to keep people excited about daily work with the latest productivity apps and tools.
- Have a Leader
While it’s not a prerequisite to have one person lead a cross-functional team, the benefits outweigh the risks. First and foremost, everyone on the team needs to take responsibility. Find a leader who can give the team accountability and develop self-leaders out of each team member. A team leader needs to educate, delegate and give autonomy, while following up on their progress. Collaborate with the team, too, by inviting them into the planning process. If you can, get mentors to help shepherd the team and give them direction as needed. While cross-functional teams are collaborative, there needs to be a leader that is held accountable for the project success. Without that leader, there’s a greater risk of a rudderless ship that never makes it to the dock.
- Ensure psychological safety
Psychological safety is when team members feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other. So, keep this in mind next time you try to assemble a well-functioning team. We hope the details we provided in this post will lead to some fresh thinking and keep the odds of success in your favour.
- Constantly Re-evaluate
The beauty of cross-functional teams, and one reason they’re so often seen in agile environments, is that they are flexible and able to adapt swiftly to change. A cross-functional team is ideal when you want to speed innovations to market. To achieve that goal, means for re-evaluating priorities and processes are needed. This includes performance reviews. Because to remain effective, teams must always be measuring their progress and success. And this happens not only as a post-mortem at the end of the project, but throughout its execution. Were objectives achieved? If not, why not? Adjust accordingly.
Source: Cross-Functional Team: What Is It and How to Make It Work