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How cross functional collaboration can work for you

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Last editedApr 20213 min read

Collaboration is a natural component of business strategy, but it often takes place between team members with the same type of background. Could a cross functional collaboration framework be the way forward for your company? Here are a few of the benefits.

Cross functional meaning

When a group of individuals with different skill sets come together to achieve common goals, this is called cross functional collaboration. A common example would be a task force that includes members of multiple departments within the same organisation. Cross functional teams might also include outside participants.

Cross functional teams are usually self-directed, with each participant contributing with their own unique perspective. By combining their different levels of functional experience, they can find innovative solutions to the task at hand.

The benefits of cross functional strategic thinking

Normally, collaboration takes place within departments. It’s more uncommon, particularly for large companies, for individuals from different departments to come together. But there are distinct advantages to cross functional collaboration, including the following.

  • Innovation: By bringing together multiple perspectives, you can approach problems with fresh eyes and find more innovative solutions.

  • Shared skills: With multiple skills represented, colleagues can share tips and strategies with one another. The result is a more highly skilled workforce that understands how their strengths fit together to mutual advantage.

  • Employee engagement: It’s good for employees to think outside the box and gain fresh perspective from colleagues they might not normally talk to. At the same time, cross functional collaboration can boost engagement by creating a team-oriented atmosphere, with all viewpoints valued.

  • Improved communication: When you speak to team members who don’t share the same background and expertise, you need to flex your communication skills to paint a clear picture. This also helps bring out the inner manager in employees.

Diversity, leadership, and a stronger team spirit can all be achieved with cross functional collaboration. It’s about bringing together your highest performers and giving them the chance to try something new and exciting.

How to create a cross functional team

Now that we’ve discussed the cross functional meaning and benefits, are you ready to try this type of strategy? Here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Put your team together with care

This first point is crucial. You can’t simply grab random employees from different departments and hope for the best. A solid cross functional collaboration framework starts with choosing the perfect team. First, you must consider the project itself along with the skills that will be required for its completion. The work will dictate the experience needed, so this should be your guiding light when selecting a team. In addition to expertise, individuals must be independent enough to handle self-directed tasks. They should be confident enough to express their ideas and convey their expertise to others from different backgrounds.

2. Choose the right leader

Although there’s an emphasis put on teamwork with this type of strategy, you also need a leader with the vision to pull it all together. Ideally, you need someone who understands how to bring out the inner leader in every team member, but can also keep the group on task. Relevant leadership skills in this type of setup include excellent communication as well as the ability to delegate with confidence.

3. Don’t overburden the team

Cross functional projects are exciting, and it’s tempting to plough forward, full steam ahead. But remember that you’re pulling together a team coming from various departments, each of which has its own objectives to meet as well. Each meeting pulls your team from their everyday tasks, and it can be difficult to switch mindsets. Look for technologies that enable collaboration to help with the logistics of scheduling and employee management.

4. Define – and redefine – your goals

Like any other work project, cross functional collaboration requires clear objectives. Although you’re bringing in a team with multiple viewpoints and skill sets, the aim is for everyone to work towards a common goal. This should be carefully defined before the team meets for the first time. Be sure to not only define objectives, but also determine your budget and metrics of success. Finally, be ready to adapt and change along the way. Take stock of your progress at regular intervals, fine-tuning your goals appropriately as needed.

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