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11 Reasons to Use Cross Functional Teams

Posted by Maggie Millard

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Mar 28, 2016 10:55:04 AM

team.jpgThe top reason organizations turn to cross functional teams is for the purpose of addressing a challenge that crosses departmental boundaries. That’s a pretty obvious reason to use the approach, but it is far from the only one. Here are 10 more.

#2 – Innovation

Fresh perspectives can lead to “ah-ah” moments and truly innovative ideas for improvement. The more familiar one is with a situation, the more difficult it becomes to recognize inefficient work arounds that have been baked into processes. A new set of eyes is sometimes all it takes to achieve a breakthrough.

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#3 – Stimulation

Changing things up a bit is useful for its own sake. It gets people thinking differently and breaks monotonous daily routines. Employees can bring the enthusiasm and engagement they get from working on a team back to their own every day role. 

#4 – Relationships

Cross functional teams are valuable for the relationships they create and develop. When you run into an issue that requires inter-departmental collaboration, you’ll be glad those relationships already exist. People are willing to go the extra mile to help their peers. 

#5 – Leadership

People don’t evolve into leaders overnight. Leadership skills are developed with use and cross functional teams are a great practice facility. Instead of just a few leaders, signified by their place on the org chart, you get many people at all levels who are empowered to exercise leadership in small doses. 

#6 – Alignment

Learning about the work of others in the organization helps employees understand the larger picture and get a feel for how their own efforts impact everyone else. When company, department, team, and personal goals are aligned, everyone makes better decisions and progress happens more quickly.

#7 – Development

Broad exposure to other departments may lead employees to explore other roles and how they might expand their own skills to advance within the organization. They provide an opportunity for team members to become ambassadors for their own role and part of the organization. 

# 8 – Speed

Cross functional teams can often address problems more quickly because each member knows the most effective way to leverage the resources, and avoid the blockers of their department. With each person navigating the waters of their own area, and bringing in the right subject matter experts, projects maintain momentum. 

# 9 – Communication

Effective cross functional teams rely on clear, concise and constant communication. Team members can help build each other's communications skills by asking thoughtful questions and talking about how well information is flowing. Very few organizations couldn’t benefit from improved communication skills across the board.

# 10 – Conflict

You may wonder how conflict is an advantage. It isn’t in itself, but learning how to work through and resolve conflict in a constructive way certainly is. Because everyone has a different point of view, conflict is natural in cross functional teams. That's a very good thing.

#11 – Accountability

Any kind of team relies on each member to uphold their responsibilities. It is incumbent on the entire group to hold each other accountable for keeping promises. Peer pressure is real and effective. Many people are able to accept feedback from peers without becoming defensive or less confident.

Cross functional teams are far more than a useful problem solving tool. They are also a valuable way to encourage employee development, give improvement work momentum, and strengthen the organization. Did we miss any benefits that your organization has enjoyed? If so, leave a comment, we’d love to read about it. 

Topics: Collaboration

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