2. Six Tips for Developing a Successful Cross-Functional Team
Cross-functional teams have become more popular in recent years for three primary reasons: they improve coordination and integration, span organizational boundaries, and reduce the production cycle time in new product development. Bringing people together from different disciplines can improve problem solving and lead to more thorough decision making. The teams foster a spirit of cooperation that can make it easier to achieve customer satisfaction and corporate goals at the same time.
The most common example of a cross-functional team is perhaps online games developers (designers, animation artists, scriptwriters, game developers). There can be a cross-functional sales team, which is focused on marketing, customer contacts, and being able to meet the client’s demands in the shortest terms.
Cross-functional teams enjoy the following advantages:
- Collective decisions rather than continued iterations and lost time.
- High creativity and possibility to apply innovations.
- Prominent experts joined together for the sake of one purpose.
For cross-functional teams to succeed, six factors have been identified that are imperative:
- Open-minded and highly motivated team members
Depending on the team members’ individual strength, it is recommended to distribute functional roles. The following personalities help to make a cross-functional team thrive: the “coordinating leader,” the “investigator-critic” (the one who provides useful criticism of all the new ideas), the “innovator,” the “expert-advisor,” the “ambassador” (the one who presents the team’s results ether, and performs any all the external communications), the “judge” (a person who helps to reach consensus either to resolve the matters of arguments), the “inspector,” the “approver,” the “stake-holder,” and the “doer”.
- Team members come from the correct functional areas
It is essential to define what experts are required for a specific project, are they qualified and experienced enough to accomplish a particular task. Even when gathering professionals, it must be clear whether they are able to bring fresh perspectives or relevant ideas. Another matter of no little interest is the ability of the chosen person to communicate with other team members.
- A strong team leader with excellent communication skills and a position of authority
To increase the odds for success, each team needs effective cross-functional team leadership for the duration of the project. To do that, select an end-to-end team leader. Cross-functional team management is necessary for different experts to work coordination. The leader will be any way responsible for the project altogether. He will generate tasks, delegate them, give assistance in communication within the team, and follow up with the results — all without any intentions to suppress the individual team member’s autonomy.
- Integrative decision-making
The decisions are made by all team members. It is important for each to have some independence in making decisions in his working sector but he should keep everybody else advised of their personal findings and solutions. The success of a project is the team’s success. It is essential to emphasize that each team member is a stake-holder in the project itself. Each and every person contributed, and their efforts should be acknowledged equally.
- Resources and support provided by the management
The main cross-functional teams “best practice” involves easing up on direct team supervision. In such circumstances, the team leader must coordinate all the team’s activities, give assistance, if necessary, involve every teammate in the planning process, supervise the day-to-day processes, and to keep the team on track. Such non-directive management results in maximal effectiveness.
The overall goal of cross-functional teams is increased organizational profits through teamwork. As a result, companies have had to develop new compensation systems to reward members of cross-functional teams. One example of this is team incentive pay. Instead of individual merit increases, team members instead earn rewards based on overall team performance. The incentive pool is funded by increased profits and new business that are created as a result of using teams. The amount of compensation that can be earned in the team incentive model is actually far greater than that which can be obtained in the standard individual merit pay system.
- Adequate communication
Communication and information exchange must take place continuously and using all available avenues. Communication within a team should be trust-based for each member, as trust is an indispensable motivation to facilitate communication. A cross-functional team is typically comprised of those who never had a chance to work together before. It is crucial to plan and arrange team-building events to break down any siloes or power dynamics. Surprisingly, spending an evening in a bar with your teammates can generate more useful ideas than while attending an official business meeting.
Without any one of these elements, any cross-functional team will be fighting an uphill battle to succeed. Working with cross-functional teams allows for the creation of novel and creative solutions for various projects that solve a wide range of issues, and to manage customers’ needs at a larger scale. Cross-functional teams are more effective in the majority of cases in comparison to many-tentacled divisions of the company.
Source: How to develop cross functional teams: best strategies