What is a Cross-Functional Team, and How do You Lead it?

Cross-functional teams can unite the skills, experience, and efforts of many departments in the effort to solve problems and achieve goals. By including an array of people from every organizational level, cross-functional teams can supply the firm with fresh perspectives and creative solutions. The diverse nature of cross-functional teams, however, can challenge managers and team leaders who desire fantastic results. The following tips can help you become an effective leader of a cross-functional team.




Embrace diversity


By definition, cross-functional teams include a variety of people, many of whom may never have worked together before. Rather than focusing on team members with whom you feel most comfortable, you should intentionally embrace diversity and deliberately involve and unite everyone in pursuit of your objectives.



Precisely Define Goals


Teams can become ineffective when their members lack clarity regarding what they are supposed to achieve. Formulating and articulating goals is one of your jobs as the leader of a cross-functional team. When every member of your team has a clear understanding of what they are trying to achieve, they can avoid wasting time with irrelevant and redundant activities while prioritizing their actions.



Set Expectations


In many settings members of cross-functional teams must fulfill their normal responsibilities while working on the team, so they need to know exactly what you expect from them. Blurring expectations can help you create a hedge against scrutiny and culpability in case your team fails. Leadership, however, requires that you let your team members know how you define success for the team and how you will evaluate individual and team performance. When people understand what you expect from them, they will know what tactics and behaviors they should adopt to succeed.



Encourage Communications


People from an assortment of departments and levels of hierarchy might resist open dialogue out of either fear or haughtiness. As the leader of a cross-functional team, you must create a safe, accepting environment where everyone can share their opinions and ideas without fear or rejection, ridicule or retribution. When everyone on your team communicates freely, you will maximize the number and quality of creative and innovative solutions that your team produces.



As you lead your cross-functional team, you can use the above tips to help you adapt your leadership style to get the best possible results. As you go about building a cohesive team with clear goals and expectations, emphasize communications to that all your team members can effectively work together to do great things.