Pros and Cons of Cross-Functional Teamwork

We live in a world where separate spheres and industries depend on each other. That means professionals from different industries or departments often have to collaborate to create an innovative solution for a specific issue or improve the efficiency and quality of their production.

Such team collaboration is getting really popular nowadays. It also has a name – cross functional teamwork.

Teamwork

Teamwork

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The Basics

So, a cross functional team involves people from different spheres or departments of one company. Their work objectives are usually mutual or strongly depend on each other. It reminds a group of superheroes who can solve almost any problem. And just like superheroes, people in such teams usually have plenty of unique skills.

That, in the first place, makes them valuable for collaboration. Having the opportunity to work together with other specialists, they combine all of their professional experience to create a new product. No wonder countless companies providing professional outsourcing services, like Develux, have been using cross functional teams for a while now. It just opens new horizons and removes the limitations of a usual team.

However, it’s not that simple, as groups encounter certain challenges. To cope with them, a team needs to have:

  • open-minded members;
  • smooth communication;
  • skilled and experienced management staff/leader;
  • clear goals and algorithms to achieve them;
  • motivation and decent rewards for personal contribution and performance.

Pros

Innovation

Like said before, one of the main points of such collaborations is the innovations they bring. Some things can be created only when different mindsets collide. And since such teams mostly include only the best-performing workers, the result of their work is almost always worthy.

Unique Experience

Such teams offer priceless experiences to their members. It allows them to view the project, its goals, and their part in it from a different perspective. They not only learn techniques but can also improve the ones they already know. People often don’t realize that processes typical for them can be done in a different way. And that’s exactly what cross functional collaboration can teach its participants.

Insights

Having professionals from different spheres in a single place is like owning a library of encyclopedias. They can share their knowledge with each other and a project lead, providing valuable insights. Such information can be very useful if applied in the right way. For example, other departments can greatly increase their performance with the use of such insights.

Communication Exercise

It’s a perfect opportunity for the members to test their communication skills. Indeed, the key to the successful work of any team is effective communication. And when you bring people from different spheres, finding a common language is always a challenge for them. But only through such hardships can one improve their skills.

Remember that being able to communicate in such diverse groups is always beneficial. It teaches us to understand other people, accept their uniqueness, and cope with the differences to achieve a common goal.

Management Training

For the team leader, it’s a perfect opportunity to challenge themselves and develop new skills. Just imagine how much effort, time, and worries it costs to find these people, gather them into a group, and make them work together efficiently. The first two points may not look that hard to do, but the last one is special.

Making a group of people work together isn’t that big of a task itself. But obviously enough, their performance needs to be on a decent level. Otherwise, their work is useless. And now, imagine leading a group of specialists, all of which have different skills. It takes a lot of determination, leadership skills, and knowledge to manage them successfully. Hopefully, it’s also very rewarding, both financially and experience-wise.

Opportunities

Working in such a diverse team brings many opportunities to its members. Everyone can discuss their ideas and try to implement them. Moreover, managers in such collaborations usually let others lead the group if asked for it. It provides even more new chances for those who want to try being a leader or just wish to acquire leadership skills.

Opportunities

Opportunities

Cons

Difference in Priorities

Working on a common goal isn’t taken the same by every participant. Different people usually have varying priorities. For example, some may value gaining their personal experience more than achieving the best result. It’s a common thing for cross functional team members to have misunderstandings and discussions because of their priorities. It also often results in poor performance.

Poor Monitoring Methods

Professional diversity can be a problem when trying to measure the impact of each team member on the result. That said, at the beginning of such collaboration, the members need to come to an agreement on how to measure everyone’s effectiveness and contribution.

But even if performance indicators are identified, it’s still a problem because people often feel underappreciated. It happens when they’re considered professionals, but their performance isn’t given enough credit.

Communication Problems

Remember the communication exercise we mentioned previously? Right, it’s beneficial, but only if every single person knows how to talk to other people without arguing every few minutes. Poor communication may have many reasons, from basic differences in personalities to professional prejudices and the inability to collaborate with other experienced workers.

Also, one of the most common causes of poor communication between workers is the lack of trust. You would think that as everyone in such teams is a professional, they would trust each other even more. But in reality, it happens to be the other way round sometimes. Some people consider themselves to be more experienced than others, which leads to huge trust issues.

Summing Up

As you can see, there are both pros and cons to cross functional collaborations. The approach comes with plenty of benefits ensuring the success of such teams’ endeavors. However, cross functional team members face real challenges as well. So, everyone should decide whether to use this form of teamwork or not according to their leadership skills, management experience, and readiness to risk.

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