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Best Practices for Working in Cross-Functional Teams (DDN2-V36)


This video featuring Ayushi Roy, explores best practices for working in cross-functional teams and lays the foundation for successful product and service delivery.

Duration: 00:04:23
Published: March 13, 2024
Type: Video

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Best Practices for Working in Cross-Functional Teams



Transcript: Best Practices for Working in Cross-Functional Teams

So what are some best practices, to be able to work with your cross-functional teams smoothly?

First, create clarity, help clarify the big goal. It's really important for cross-functional teams to be on the same page about what success looks like, because the members are often operating from different mindsets and different sets of assumptions based on the functional group from which they might be coming. They might not share the same common language that departmental or functional team does.

It's also really important to establish milestones along the way because your team may not be seeing each other or communicating with each other every single day. Milestone setting gives members a clear sense of what's going on, what comes next, as well as what risks different priorities or bottlenecks might be.

A second best practice is to consider the personal qualities that will make people valuable contributors to the team. Consider representation of stakeholder groups and political practicalities. It's important to include influencers, if you can, to make the cross-functional team even more effective. All in all, ensure diversity within the team. It's proven to increase innovation and help break through the silos that might exist in your organization.

A third best practice is to pick and empower a team lead. Cross-functional teams don't have to have a leader, but they often work better with one. Choosing a dedicated and empowering that dedicated leader is often critical to the team's success. This team lead needs to be someone who can encourage positive collaboration and healthy conflict resolution. They should be able to guide, discussion and hold other members accountable regardless of their location within the organization's hierarchy. This team lead should be comfortable with informal authority. And finally, it's important for this team lead to be able to have support in establishing authority for that team across departments.

A fourth best practice, is to set ground rules, community guidelines or a team charter, for the cross-functional team, to ensure that contribution, behaviour, communication styles and project tooling are all unified for team members.

A final best practice is to set the cadence of work with your team. Establish regular and recurring meeting times that work for all teammates. Regularly monitor team progress towards goals and milestones. Stay adaptable if milestones are not met or if external variables change. Use retros or other discussion formats to respond to change as a team. And finally work to create buy-in across the organization. Working on project delivery is actually only half of the work of a cross-functional team. Taking the time to socialize the work, build relationships, and build trust across the organization for the work that you're delivering, is really important.

Here are two key concepts I want to leave you with that are best practices. The first, team members must build a shared language and story such that every teammate would have the same answer when asked a question independently. It's hard, but important to get to a place where your cross-functional team can truly answer questions the same way, regardless of who's in the room. And second, team members must feel safe speaking up, especially when you all are disagreeing. Cross-functional teams are all about finding better solutions by bringing together diverse people. But you can't reach those solutions unless you can effectively navigate your differences.

Putting together a cross-functional team in your organization is not a cure all or solve all. It takes work to make them great. The question is, what is the formation of this cross-functional team in service of? And are they set up to provide this service successfully?

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