11 Incredible Benefits Of Cross-Functional Teams
Cross-functional teams can be best described through a quote by Henry Ford. “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
Do you feel that your organization is getting fragmented working in silos? Then it’s high time you break down those silos. Because silos act as barriers to success. If you ask me how to break silos, the definite answer is to build cross-functional teams! (yes...It’s a proven success in our organization!)
‘Cross-functional teams’ is a term often heard in the corridors of progressive organizations. Here, you are going to discover what cross-functional teams are. You will also get to know some fabulous benefits of cross-functional teams that will bring forth positive business results.
What Is a Cross-Functional Team?
Cross-functional teams are groups of people belonging to different functional/expertise domains. All these groups will be working together towards a common goal.
In a cross-functional team, there will be people from every group, i.e. marketing, product, sales, and customer success. They will conduct business by implementing their expertise to achieve goals that would otherwise be unworkable.
Signs That Warn You to Adopt Cross-Functional Teams
You might have gone through many frustrating customer experiences while interacting with siloed organizations. For example; when you contact a medical center, your call gets transferred from one department to another. You end up conveying your need, every time. All these, without bringing you closer to any solution even after 25 minutes. Here, it is clear proof that you are interacting with a siloed setup.
Here, the organization is missing a wonderful opportunity to build a memorable customer experience. This happens because every department is functioning autonomously rather than collaboratively. They don’t share insights and information with each other. This leads to ineffective decision-making and poor customer happiness.
If you observe the below signs in your organization, it’s time to ditch silos and embrace cross-functional teams.
- Duplication of processes and tasks across teams
- A team does not accept solutions developed by other teams
- Limited creativity due to groupthink
- None of the teams bother about how their actions impact the organization
- Getting things done is a long process
- Teammates are not informed about the project details
Key Benefits of Cross-Functional Teams
Smart organizations have embraced flat organizational structures, self-organizing teams, open workspaces, and virtual workforce. Integral to all these is cross-functional teams. There are clear-cut benefits that these teams offer to the organizations. Here, you are going to discover those benefits.
1. Cross-functional teams help you place customers first
Cross-functional teams can frisk sluggish operational processes. This helps them to reach a solution fast and thereby keep their customers happy.
These teams dedicate themselves to improved customer experience as they organize around it. Effective communication across teams helps in delivering a specific customer intent, action, or value stream. Customized and cohesive customer experience is the end result.
2. Cross-functional teams introduce improved innovation
As teammates bring diverse skills, detecting and devising improvements across the value stream becomes easier. They put their brains together to find innovative solutions and innovative products. They reach at smart solutions based on different data sets.
Cross-functionality shakes up the ‘groupthinking’ status quo and encourages ideas to flow in. Moreover, learning from each other broadens everyone’s perspective and boosts problem-solving skills. All these lead to clever and innovative solutions that promote customer satisfaction and is often touted as one of the key benefits of cross-functional teams.
3. Cross-functional teams promote a collaborative culture
Cross-functional teams promote collaboration as they bring together groups that are traditionally siloed. This cross-functional collaboration generates enhanced coordination among diverse teams. This is possible as every team focuses on a common goal. Marketing, sales, and product teams come together and identify each other’s strengths. They gain from other team’s insights and knowledge. Besides spurring innovation, this can improve bonding among teammates leading to a perfect collaborative culture. Isn't it notable among the other benefits of cross-functional teams?
4. Cross-functional teams handle conflict resolution constructively
Diversity can present conflicts. It's natural to have conflicting opinions when people from different backgrounds, domains, and talent pool join together for a common goal. You can expect each team member to bring contradictory processes and varying work styles to the table. Equipping your team with conflict-resolution tactics is the best remedy.
Your project managers and team leaders should create rulebooks for teams. They should evolve a flawless decision-making process. They also need to ensure that the team is vibrant with unbroken communication and flexibility.
5. Cross-functional teams enjoy reduced cycle times
Customers approach an organization with their pain points. They become frustrated if there is a delay in getting solutions or there are no solutions at all (refer to the example in the beginning about calling a hospital). Another example can be clients approaching you with their demand to add a new feature to a mobile app.
Cross-functional teams are adept at detecting inefficiencies and improving solutions. They can reduce the cycle time for any recurring pain points. They achieve it through their solution-driven mindset, rather than a functional mind-set and hence one of the key benefits of cross-functional teams.
6. Cross-functional teams promote flexibility
As we have already discussed, cross-functional teams act as fertile grounds for innovative thinking and free-flowing ideas. As it’s a heterogeneous team, it's important for each one to come to the table with a flexible attitude. They need to be ready to accept and appreciate others’ insights and suggestions.
You should never allow narrow thinking to creep into the team as it will choke innovation. Effective cross-functional teams will be brimming with flexibility.
7. Cross-functional teams foster improved organization
Cross-functional teams thrive with superior organizational skills. As they are managing multiplicity and complexity, they are best fitted to deal with a complex project. All teammates will be adept at using different project management tools and will be strictly adhering to deadlines. They will organize and manage daily responsibilities by smartly assigning tasks and targets. They will deliver things with clarity as they can see the progress of the project as everybody is in the loop.
8. Cross-functional teams dream about success of the project
Each member of the cross-functional team has clarity on their goals and expectations. There are no hide-and-seek games and less chance of misunderstandings. All these help them to keep project success as their sole common dream.
Well-defined and structured roles help them to focus well and deliver the best. For example, in an Agile cross functional development team, there will be ScrumMasters, Product Owners, and Team Members with clear goals and unique skills. This helps them with clear accountability.
9. Cross-functional teams have greater accountability
As mentioned in the above point, cross-functional teams are accountable for their tasks. They will have greater accountability as each one is held responsible for their roles and responsibilities. Each member of the team relies on his fellow teammates and hence, it is imperative to have accountability. No wonder they will voluntarily feel liable to keep their promises.
10. Cross-functional teams are fast in getting things done
Learning from one another is an important trait of cross-functional teams. As everyone brings in a variety of skills to a single team, each member benefits from it. As sales, marketing, HR, and operations teams can learn better strategies from each other to make use of their overlapping areas of expertise. Each of these departments will be using specific tracking tools and other productivity and collaboration software. Cross-functional team members can thrive on these tools and improve their productivity. There is not doubt that swift execution and delivery is one of the prime benefits of cross-functional teams.
11. Cross-functional teams succeed with the right tools
Learning from one another is an important trait of cross-functional teams. As everyone brings in a variety of skills to a single team, each member benefits from it. As sales, marketing, HR, and operations teams can learn better strategies from each other to make use of their overlapping areas of expertise. Each of these departments will be using specific tracking tools and other productivity and collaboration software. Cross-functional team members can thrive on these tools and improve their productivity.
Cross-functional teams have become the success mantra for many progressive organizations. Wondering how to build a cross-functional team in your organization? Stay tuned as I will be coming up with a blog on that. Please subscribe to our blog to get updates.
If I have missed any benefits of cross-functional teams, please leave a comment.