Leading a team is a challenging
task, but have you led a cross-functional team? The challenges of leading a
team of individuals from a cross-section of your company are manifold. But so
are the advantages. Since cross-functional teams are, by definition, made up of
individuals with different skill sets working toward a common goal, in order to
effectively lead such a team, a leader must exercise superb organizational and
leadership qualities. Keeping some strategies in mind will help you avoid some
common pitfalls of cross-functional teams.
Keep the Lines of
When working with a
cross-functional team, make a concerted effort to keep all lines of
communication open between team members and between leadership and the team.
Set up short meetings to get project status reports and resolve any issues that
are holding up the project. Team members should feel comfortable communicating
with each other throughout the project timeline as well as reporting any issues
that arise. Encouraging effective use of project management software can help
mitigate a lack of communication that can happen when team members are working
on a wide variety of tasks.
Cross-functional teams require flexibility
to run smoothly. When several people with expertise in different disciplines
come together, creative solutions to existing problems can arise. Embrace this
unpredictability – it truly is the beauty and benefit of organizing a team of
people from diverse professional backgrounds. This unpredictability, however,
can sometimes present a challenge to leaders.
When such a moment arises, the
entire project timeline may have to be reevaluated. Take the time to think
through new ideas and decide whether they are valuable to the project. If they
are, rethink the project timeline and individual team member tasks. Then, once
the new plan has been in effect for a sufficient amount of time, reevaluate.
If you are leading a cross-functional team, chances are team members will not be familiar with each other. Making sure your team members are aware of what other team members’ tasks are can help keep things on track. Team building exercises can help team members get to know one another’s work and help them form bonds that make work more effective. Social events and in office happenings can help to strengthen your team by creating a more harmonious workplace.
Take the time to meet with your team members one on one. This is a great way to ensure that any potential challenges of the cross-functional team are nipped in the bud. Speaking to a team member one-on-one can also reveal any internal dysfunction occurring within the team. Identifying these challenges can help you set new goals and tasks that can help mitigate some of the difficulties found within cross-functional teams.
It is important not to let technology replace face to face communication. Not only will your team members feel appreciated and heard, the team will run more smoothly if leaders get the opportunity to speak in person with every member of the team.
teams are an ideal organizational structure for creative projects and
innovative work. Being an effective leader of a cross-functional team can be a
challenge that allows you to reap many rewards. Well-led, cross-functional
teams can provide a great benefit to the company.