The Big Picture of Cross-Functional Management

Cross-functional teams are the ultimate in diversity. Members come from diverse backgrounds and different levels and departments within a company. They have distinct skill sets, as well and varying personalities and perspectives.

When a team comes together in a healthy appreciation for each other’s contributions, they can be highly innovative and effective. With strong leadership paving the way, successful cross-functional teams:

• Bring new and better insight into
• Increase employee engagement.
• Stimulate creativity and innovation.
• Breakthrough stereotyping and build the positive aspects of diversity.
• Enhance employee morale, team spirit, and the company culture.
• Take an organization’s success to the next level.

So, what are the criteria for a cross-functional team leader?

Team management should be assigned to a senior executive. Even when a team member is appointed direct leadership over the other members per/a specific project, he/she should be reporting to a senior staff member, who clarifies quality standards, budget, and expected timeline, as well as ensuring clear communication within the group and between the group and C-level staff. Cross-functional management organizes business processes across traditional boundaries, coordinating and synergizing the responsibilities and work of each unit, confirming that goals are met, and policies are upheld. He/she chooses the team members, and then educates, delegates, and provide autonomy. Ultimately, the manager/leader is accountable for the team’s success.

It sounds daunting, and it certainly can be a challenge, but by recognizing the critical functions of a team and the principles of cross-functional management, the statistics of the past can be exchanged for success.

Best Practices for Cross-Functional Management –


Choose wisely your team:

First, establish the skill requirements and expertise needed for the project. Then evaluate the potential member’s accordingly, recognizing that no one person will have all the required skills. For example, your team may have an IT specialist, several engineers, an accountant, and a visionary. Some will envision the big pictures, while others see the details.

Don’t overlook interpersonal skills. Some will be introverts, and some will be extroverts, but every team member will need to be adept at communication, embrace diversity, handle conflict in a healthy manner, and generally get along with people.

Clearly Defined Goals and Objectives:

It is critical that every member of your cross-functional team understands the project goals and objectives, the principles, factors, and methods that will be used in accomplishing those objectives, and how progress will be measured. They must know what is expected from him/her and how his/her tasks fit into the big picture.

Establish a system of organization:

To manage a team of this diversity and complexity, you’ll need a system for organizing deadlines, files, notes, data, research, and whatever else you bring to the project. Create a method to ensure that the team’s output is transferred back into key functions and work streams, so the insights become standard operating procedures for the enterprise.

Clarify communication:

Good communication is a critical aspect of cross-functional team success. Establish your expectations and methods of communication from the beginning. Conduct in-person meetings. If most of the team are working from remote locations, establish regular conference calls, skype, or facetime meetings. Ensure that everyone is both giving input and listening to the rest of the team. Take steps to confirm the clarity of information passed.

Build trust:

Trust is essential. Provide opportunities for members to connect both within the project time and off work. Encourage team members to respect and appreciate each person’s role. Pay attention to each member’s credibility and reliability. Better to remove one person from the team than to disrupt interpersonal connections.

Resolve conflicts quickly:

There will always be some level of friction when you put together a team of diverse skills, personalities, work styles, opinions, etc. The key is not thinking you can avoid it, but instead accepting the reality and establishing procedures for responding quickly to incidents.

Recognize and express appreciation:

Acknowledge and reward hard work creative talent, dedication, skill strengths, and innovative thinking of the team, and toward each one individually. Measure performance, so the team knows how well they’re delivering, how much they have accomplished, and what is still to be finished. Both are important; both build morale; both increase productivity and team spirit.

Cross-functional teams can play a valuable role in company success. When they are managed well, the results can be astounding. Applying the above principles will ensure effectiveness and ultimately enhance your company’s bottom line. Through Award’s own Cross-functional Recruiting model we will be able to help you find the right employees for your unique business needs. If you’re searching for more tips and trick on how to improve your company’s workforce, check out our hiring solutions blog.



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