Businesses today have to move and think fast to keep up with the ever-changing landscapes of their industry. Without the agile mindset, staying competitive is almost impossible. By encouraging and developing a culture of creative collaboration, you give your business a competitive advantage. A huge leg up on your competition!
Cross-functional (leadership, accounting, marketing, production, development, customer service, etc.) teams can meet in a collaborative environment and bring different skill sets, perspectives, and functional expertise to the table to solve a common problem or achieve a common goal. It can be easy for cross-functional teams to fall into competition with each other, but thoughtful cooperation and guidance is the name of the game. Remember, you’re all supposed to be working toward the same goal - success!
Letting competitiveness get in the way of what you’re trying to achieve is counterproductive. With that said, here are a few tips to help build a cross-functional team that gets the job done.
Research. Right Fit. Recruit.
You have to build the right team. It's like filling in your fantasy football picks each week or in the draft. Research the right combination of team members that complement each other and can grow into something special. Don’t just expect the right team members to land in your lap, think who's a good fit for this group and project. Don’t bring people into the fold that you know will not be suited for the concept, end goal or that might cause friction with the balance already established.
It's all about the right fit. Actively survey and assess the people that work for you and recruit those best suited for the project and best suited to the other personalities that are already involved or will be involved in the project.
Now, go out there an pitch your concept to the team. Make sure when recruiting new team members that you lay out clear expectations and timetables. They will be balancing between the team project and their regular work duties, so set them up for success.
Don’t forget that you may need to communicate some of your higher-ups to cooperate if you are pulling key people away from current duties and make sure they understand the benefits of what you’re trying to do.
Be Crystal Clear: Clarify Responsibilities and Goals
It’s crucial that you have clarity in your direction and goals for the project so that everyone is on the same page and can work as a cohesive unit. Make sure each team member understands the role you want them to play and communicate key objectives for the project.
Encourage unity by asking each team member to agree to the objectives you set forth. A team with one mind and one goal work more cohesively than a team full of individual goals potentially competing with one another.
Make Collaborating Easy
You should always start a cross-functional collaboration by meeting face-to-face. Once you’ve had that initial face time, set your team up for success by implementing and using tools that help them collaborate better.
There are a wealth of online tools and apps designed for cross-functional collaboration to help keep everyone connected virtually and avoid unnecessary meetings. When it is necessary for teams to talk, try using things like email or chat to relay information. If you need to toss around more complex ideas, pick up the phone or consider a video conference.
The more you can centralize your communications with your team, the easier it will be for everyone to stay abreast of where each person stands on their roles and duties.
Excellence Is All Effort
It's not about perfection; it's about effort. Collaborations can get tricky. Communicate and coach a standard of excellence and allow your team to meet or exceed that standard. They know their roles, what you expect from each of them, what it looks like when they reach a goal or complete a task, and what you expect from them as part of a team. All they need is a little guidance and inspiring leadership.
Set an attainable schedule, deadlines, deliverables, and milestones and you know, magic will happen. Coach expectations on attitudes and professionalism and be the example to your team in how to communicate and collaborate effectively.
Cross-functional team collaborations can be challenging, but the upside is massive, especially when organizing things like an annual marketing campaign or event, improving internal processes or new product innovation. The old cliché “Two heads are better than one,” is very apt.
Efficient collaborations spawn creativity and innovation, which help propel a business into a success. And that's what it's all about and the feeling your team will get by driving the process. Now, go get them, and if you need some help, please let us know. Happy to be a part of the process!