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6 Things You Need to Build a Successful Cross-Functional Team

Written for and published by Chemistry Consulting Group.

Building and leading cross-functional teams, especially in this new hybrid world, can be daunting. But, leaders and managers who embrace the challenge will be rewarded with increased productivity and satisfaction – for themselves and their teams.

If you’ve ever been a part of a cross-functional team you probably already know some of the difficulties that can arise. It can be challenging to prioritize, motivate, make decisions, and manage performance when collaborating with people across different departments.

All successful teams, at their core, have these six skills in common: communication, accountability, feedback, structures, cohesion, and emotional intelligence. The more developed in these areas your teams are, the more productive and successful they will be. By evaluating leader and team effectiveness within these indicators you can predict future success, and if you can measure and track improvement over time, even better!

  1. Communication: It is critically important in cross-functional teams to break down silos and turf-protecting behaviors by openly sharing information and agreeing on norms of engagement. With an effective communication model, not only can you achieve clarity of shared information, but you can make collective decisions, even when priorities are different!
  1. Accountability: Reviewing overarching organizational objectives is essential to avoiding tunnel vision, which can lead to a collapse of accountability. Accountability requires a shared perspective – holding one another accountable to project completion by way of specific, related tasks. If Sales has a big presentation coming up, they will naturally focus on that, while the Marketing department might be focused on launching a new website feature. The two teams need to come together to collectively weigh priorities and establish what is most urgent and important.
  1. Interactive Feedback: It’s important to provide noticed, behavioral feedback on stuck points in interdepartmental conversations to gain alignment and set expectations. After putting these agreed on behaviors and processes into place, they should be revisited, reviewed, and followed up on (e.g., in 30 days and 60 days) to ensure the discussed feedback is still sufficient.
  1. Structures: Creating structures and organizational processes that put collaboration at the forefront helps keep team members from being siloed. Consider establishing regular meetings where cross-functional team members come together to discuss a given item, topic, or project. For example, a scheduled weekly or monthly meeting to review and discuss current initiatives and priorities. This will also decrease ad hoc meetings which can disrupt productivity.
  1. Emotional Intelligence: In particular, with cross-functional teams, you have to focus on bringing forward your empathy, social skills, and leader assertiveness. Teams and leaders need to practice empathy by trying to understand others’ worlds in comparison to their own. They need to use social skills to have effective conversations, weigh pros and cons, and to understand and align with the overall objectives. Finally, all team members need to be leader assertive and bring forward their viewpoint when working together to find a solution.
  1. Cohesion: It takes multiple perspectives and opinions to effectively and innovatively complete a project. To achieve the best outcome, don’t be afraid to break outside of your lane! Be inclusive. Indulge new ideas. Create a safe place to bring different viewpoints together. It’s also important to recognize that you’re not always the expert; ascertain who is and bring them on board.

When building your cross-functional team, make sure to provide the tools and training to set them up for success and ensure everyone puts in the effort to stay connected.

Don’t know where to start? Get a snapshot of where your teams rank within these six key indicators. Simply answer a few short questions and get your results right away: https://train.vivoteam.com/demo