7 Best Practices to Empower Cross-Functional Teams and Improve Productivity

Empower Cross-Functional

According to Stanford,

Individuals who work in collaborative settings are 50% more efficient at completing tasks.

So, it is evident that every organization must build and empower a cross-functional team for maximum productivity. It promotes cohesion across an organization where people with varied functional expertise work together to achieve common goals effectively. This also helps increase profitability by minimizing external hiring and promotes organizational growth.

Cross-functional team collaboration leads to an engaged, more open, and connected workplace.

However, when cross-functional teams are not managed properly, it results in conflicts, low morale, disengagement, and thereby hampering overall productivity. 

So how can you build and help empower any cross-functional team to be more efficient?

This blog highlights some effective ways to empower cross-functional teams and improve productivity. Let’s begin.

1. What are cross-functional teams?

Cross-functional teams consist of employees from different departments and functional areas of the company who work together to accomplish a goal or complete projects.

For example, when a new marketing campaign is being initiated, members belonging to the different functions of the marketing department, like designers, copywriters, researchers, public relations experts, production specialists, etc., work together to execute the campaign. On the other hand, if an organization is developing a website for a client, then teams from the web development, content, designing, and digital marketing departments collaborate to fulfill the client’s requirement.

1.1 What are the benefits of cross-functional teams?

Here’s a rundown on various benefits that explains why forming a cross-functional team is the need of the hour.

  • Boosts innovation: Since every resource in a cross-functional team has different viewpoints and personalities, they bring fresh perspectives to the table. This, along with their industry knowledge and skills, will develop “out of the box” ideas and innovative solutions.
  • Enhances knowledge sharing: When people from different departments work together, it facilitates an easy flow of knowledge. For instance, senior resources can share their subject matter expertise and help their team members to identify and overcome project-related challenges from a broader perspective. 
  • Creates high-performance work culture: Cross-functional collaboration helps members understand the project interdependencies better and increases accountability as everyone knows how their role will affect the project’s progress. This boosts employee performance and project quality, thereby garnering a high-performance culture.
  • Improves efficiency and profitability: Having a cross-functional team enables organizations to leverage diverse skills of resources and tap into their maximum potential. It leads to efficient and intelligent utilization of the workforce. In addition, their efforts escalate the overall teams and organizational efficiency.

Thus, the benefits of having cross-departmental teams can become a transformative force in your workplace if the right strategies are implemented to empower them. So, let’s delve into it:

  1. 7 effective ways to empower cross-functional teams

Whether you’re building a new cross-functional team or tuning up an existing one, here are some effective strategies that you can implement:

  1. Establish guidelines to streamline cross-departmental communication

Communication is necessary to ensure proper coordination between resources across departments. Therefore, managers must set clear rules and guidelines for seamless cross-functional communication. They can choose a suitable communication platform and establish the rules for synchronous and asynchronous communication.

It helps minimize the chances of discrepancies and internal confusion regarding communication. In addition, managers can set protocols for away messages, time-outs, email alerts, or setting an agenda before the onset of any meeting. This will reduce time spent on unnecessary meetings, ultimately enhancing productivity.

  1. Form a skill-based cross-functional team for each project

While forming a cross-functional team, managers must assess the project skill demands and identify resources accordingly. This helps to create a competent cross-departmental team. In addition to technical knowledge, these team members also need soft skills such as team spirit, emotional intelligence, problem-solving skills, etc.

This will enable them to work in tandem and minimize discrepancies. In addition, rather than developing a team with only highly skilled members, managers should form a mix of resources from different levels of competencies. It will allow less-experienced employees or freshers to learn, grow, and prove their talent in a collaborative environment.

  1. Clearly define individual roles and shared responsibilities

Since cross-functional projects are a collective effort, defining individual roles and responsibilities plays a crucial role in determining the success and failure of projects. Therefore, before the project’s onset, managers need to explain the duties of employees and align them with the shared responsibilities. 

Further, managers should establish key performance indicators and goals for individual team members. It will ensure individual and team accountability and secure the project’s fate. It also reduces employee conflicts that hamper team spirit and impact overall productivity.

  1. Promote inclusiveness in decision-making

Managers who handle a cross-functional team should always be unbiased and give equal importance to every team member. For this, you can ask every teammate to share their suggestions and opinions about the project, thereby maintaining equity. 

Managers can make it a practice to conduct regular brainstorming sessions where the team can give their input, and since they are from diverse backgrounds, this will also help in team building. In addition, it will let everyone feel valued and respected as they could contribute to the decision-making process.

  1. Encourage creativity and knowledge sharing 

As discussed, team members must be given chances to express their opinions or ideas. This will help encourage members to pitch their creative ideas as they are provided with a platform. It also allows employees to showcase their talent and go the extra mile to add value.

In addition, when these ideas are expressed, it creates a platform to share the knowledge between them. As a result, it allows employees to diversify their portfolios and helps increase ROI. It will also future-proof the workforce and help them easily tackle evolving demands and uncertainties.

  1. Track cross-functional team’s performance and provide timely feedback

While managing a cross-functional team, managers must regularly monitor and track the team’s progress and performance. This will help identify whether the work processes are effective. In case of setbacks, managers can analyze the reasons like negligence, mismanagement, miscommunication, etc., and implement measures to mitigate the same.

In addition, managers can provide timely feedback to the resources to address specific issues of an employee’s performance. It strengthens employer-employee relations and empowers them to meet the company’s expectations and deliver quality projects.

  1. Acknowledge and reward individual & team efforts collectively

The success of a cross-functional team lies in each member’s hard work and effort. Therefore, it is necessary to express gratitude toward the whole team and acknowledge the efforts put in by the employees. This will make them feel valued, appreciated, and respected.

Besides monetary benefits, managers can send an appreciation email or use social media shout-outs to high-performers. All these initiatives boost cross-functional employees’ confidence, and they will be more motivated and engaged to walk the extra mile every time.

The following section explains how resource management software helps empower cross-functional teams and utilize them efficiently.

  1. How does resource management software boost the productivity of cross-functional teams?

Saviom’s resource management tool offers numerous functionalities that help form and manage a cross-functional team successfully.

The 360-degree visibility and advanced filter give an overview of all the resources’ profiles and help managers deploy the best-fit resources for a cross-functional project. It prevents the allocation of over/under-skilled resources to projects. Besides, when the employees work on a project that aligns with their competencies and interest, it enhances their engagement and productivity.

In addition, utilization reports of cross-functional resources can help managers assess the workload and distribute it uniformly. It also allows you to keep overutilization in check and negate burnout. When cross-functional employees’ stress levels are minimum, they are more active and productive.

Furthermore, managers can empower employees by letting them select the projects of their preferences and interest. They can publish open positions mentioning specific details such as skillset, qualifications, experience, etc., allowing members to volunteer and opt for it. Based on their profiles, managers can then select the best-fit resource.

These functionalities will enable businesses to maintain the resource health index and motivate the cross-functional teams to add more value to projects and perform better.

  1. Conclusion 

Steve Jobs once said- “Great things are never done by an individual; it is a cumulative effort that brings success.”

This adage holds true in the present business landscape that requires the coordination and collaboration of employees belonging to different functions. This also helps create an open-work culture where employees with diverse skills, expertise, and perspectives converge to achieve common objectives.

With the aforementioned strategies and an advanced resource management tool, you can empower your cross-functional teams, improve their productivity, and achieve company goals. 

So, how do you empower your cross-functional teams?