Having cross-functional teams within your company provides a wealth of holistic benefits, but can also be dead weight when certain dysfunctions arise within it. So how do you remedy these cases of underwhelming performances?

What are Cross-functional Teams?

Before anything else, it is important to know first whether you are part of a cross-functional team or not; or if you have such a team thriving within your company. So, what are these seemingly special entities within an organization? A cross-functional team transcends a single specialization as its members are experts belonging to fields such as: marketing, management, engineering, or production, among many others. These members employ their individual expertise in the formation of various advancements (i.e. product conceptualization or quality control) to reach a targeted goal for the benefit of the whole company.

Common Examples of Dysfunctions in a Cross Team Collaboration

From their various professional backgrounds, a diverse pool of ideas surface from group discussions. The information collated from these discussions is taken advantage of in the eventual propelling of the company’s status. But their sterling résumés do not make the members of a cross-functional team immune from disparities that can cause substandard performance from the whole group. Here are common scenarios of cross-functional teams that need troubleshooting:

  • The Chaotic Bunch. This team’s issue stems from the fact that each member is an expert of his or her own field. Given this fact, each member holds their own strong opinions and would inevitably stand their ground during group discussions. The seemingly advantageous factor diversity brings is rather a catalyst for failure in this scenario.

Within teams that have a roster of stalwart characters, the formation of smaller groups is bound to happen. But despite this, it is the obligation of the assigned team leader to ensure the collective agreement of such a group. Maintaining a mutual understanding between each member is integral for the proper alignment of their operations as a group.

  • The Hopeless Romantics. At the opposite end of the spectrum are those who would rather maintain peace than bite the bullet. Those belonging to such a group tend to prioritize the harmonious relationship of the entire company; but in the expense of addressing issues that are detrimental to the failure or success of the whole organization.

Members of such a group act like horses with blinders since they tend to ignore problems that are not under their team’s purview. To rid themselves of their Pollyanna archetypes should be top priority for them; and they should start facing crisis head on for the improvement of the company.

  • The Satellite Members. Individualists comprise this kind of team. The only member within the group they liaise with is their leader. During group discussions, the leader would often find him or herself ticking off just one checkbox from his or her list: status updates. To those who say there is no “I” in team, well, in this case, there is.

The members of this kind of team share a common way of seeing things: that their individual expertise does not allow them to collaborate with each other. In this case, leaders must step in to remind their members of the common goal they have to meet as a team.

Tips in Improving Communication in the Workplace

A streamlined flow of information in the workplace fosters a spirit of camaraderie that benefits the company as a whole. To inform your members about your vision for the company allows them to have a sense of urgency to constantly improve. This also allows for a wealth of advantages like: a significant decrease in costs, and the ability to find creative solutions for day-to- others. More often than not, cases of failed cross-functional team collaborations are found existing within the company; and the common cause for this: inefficient communication processes.

The lack of an organized and concise voice to liaise a company’s collective goal is seen as the catalyst for the fall of cross-functional collaborations. The solution to this problem is heavily reliant on a steadfast leader who espouses confidence. A strong administrative voice that is both transparent and reliable, and which also imparts clear cut instructions, is essential in cultivating trust from every member.

Here are more specific solutions to communication errors in cross-team collaborations:

1. Develop a Systematic Flow of Information

Creating a fixed repository of vital data is one way of ensuring alignment within every member of a company. Utilize information automation apps (i.e. Skyvia, Cloud HQ, or Hugginn) that eases the liaising task by providing teams with regular updates in real-time.

2. Encourage Dialogue Between Members

A team with diverse professional backgrounds can either be a dystopia or a utopia. It’s most likely the latter that you’d hope to forge for your company. And in doing so, a healthy debate regarding each other’s ideas will be key to achieving such. When grounded with a mutual respect for each other’s opinions the creation of innovative and revolutionary ideas is made possible.

3. Exploit Technology to Micromanage Your Team

Individually checking-up on your members can be a tedious task, but advancements that aid in the smoothening of operations has made it possible for you to do it easily. The appearance of apps that allow you to provide your team with information like: collective progress reports and performance updates, allow you to optimize both your time and administrative capacities. These assistive apps (i.e. AceProject, Teamwork, or Slack) are both equipped with graphical metrics to translate data with ease, and are accessible either through computers or mobile phones.

4. Espouse Transparency Within Your Team

Having your members realize just how much they really are bringing in to the company is truly an empowering thing to know. Give them the specifics of the impact they contribute to the growth of the whole team, and that will be the fuel they need to perform even better.

5. Discover Areas That Need Troubleshooting

Little to no cross-functional team begins as successes. It is unavoidable to start with minor errors here and there. And when these problem areas have been refined and polished then you would have created an all-star league of your own. The road to success is, at often times, hampered as the process of identifying waterloos within the team is delayed. Never put this in the backburner and start creating a list of evident issues arising in the group, and immediately address these one by one.

6. Establish Fixed Goals

By now, this constant reminder is a cliché you probably know already; but its importance in ensuring the success of your team is something you need to live and breathe. The realization of a concept or idea is hindered by vague instructions; so to reach a certain goal, it is necessary that you communicate your thoughts as clear as possible.

Establishing goals is not a one man process, and it must involve your members as well. Solicit everyone’s opinions about certain areas that need improvement. Next, discuss about feasible and efficient ways on how to solve it. Also remember to limit yourself to a small amount of goals to reach as not to satiate your team quickly.

7. Carefully Curate Your Members

Sometimes square one of the path to creating the best possible team starts with picking the best people. Never let a stellar CV blind you from the fact that their personality might not be the best fit for the other members. Find the right blend of experts whose characters also complement that of the others.

8. Promote the Exchange of Inspired Ideas

With each of your member being well-versed in the intricacies of their field, a caucus that transpires between members of a cross-functional team is truly enriches the mind. Always remind yourself and your members to keep both their minds and ears open to ideas from their colleagues. Remember that a good leader is one who constantly motivates his or her members to voice out their thoughts.

Optimizing the benefits of your inter department communication is key to the success of your company. You definitely are wasting time in allowing cross-functional disconnections thrive within the organization you’ve worked hard to maintain. To ensure that you keep up with the fast-paced shifts within the sales industry, an important measure to take is making sure that every member of your team shares the same perspective as you do through efficient department communications. Once an aligned team is formed, the possibilities that can be achieved are endless.