What Is a Cross-Functional Team?
A cross-functional team is a group in an organization that is made up of members from different departments. For example, an organization may put together a cross-functional team with one or more employees from marketing, engineering, product, sales, and human resources.
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Why Develop Cross-Functional Teams?
It can be difficult to maintain communication across multiple departments in an organization, especially as teams grow larger. Cross-functional teams can help improve company-wide communication by allowing representatives from various departments to come together to discuss concerns, collaborate, and solve problems.
Advantages of Cross-Functional Teams
One advantage of cross-functional teams is that they promote better employee engagement. While this is good for the business, it also helps employees feel less isolated at work and fosters a sense of belonging among team members.
Moreover, cross-functional teams often allow employees to exercise greater levels of creativity in team meetings, leading to the implementation of more innovative ideas. They also force team leaders to define project roles and goals more clearly, ensuring that everyone involved understands and is comfortable with their responsibilities.
Finally, having cross-functional teams can create better alignment across the company and result in more streamlined work processes. This type of collaboration necessitates the creation of new workflows so teams that typically operate separately can productively work together.
Disadvantages of Cross-Functional Teams
Cross-functional teams are highly beneficial to businesses and employees, but they aren’t without certain potential downsides.
Many cross-functional teams deal with conflicting goals, as people from different departments have differing opinions about the final product or the steps required to get there. Some cross-functional teams must also work to overcome a lack of trust among employees who aren’t used to working together.
To solve these issues, it’s imperative that team leaders put the company’s goals, mission, and expectations front and center from the beginning. It’s also helpful to offer opportunities to collaborate on small tasks first so teams can get to know each other and build camaraderie.
Examples of Cross-Functional Collaboration
One of the most prominent examples of cross-functional collaboration is the go-to-market team. This team combines product development, marketing, and sales teams to improve the product launch process and ensure a product’s ongoing success.
Here are a few other examples of cross-functional teams:
- Floor managers and procurement staff work together to guarantee product availability.
- Front desk staff, nurses, and doctors streamline processes to ensure that all patients are seen within 15 minutes of arrival.
- CSRs, web developers, and inventory specialists collaborate to help customers have a smooth shopping experience.
While cross-functional collaboration can be challenging, it can be instrumental to a company’s overall success.