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Cross-functional teams

Most organizations require a balanced blend of personalities and skill sets to thrive and achieve success. And although bringing together those with differing qualities, backgrounds and strengths can be a challenge, there are numerous benefits that may outweigh the disadvantages.

If your organization is looking for ways to take advantage of everything cross-functional teams have to offer, you may want to read this e-newsletter. It will discuss the pros and cons of a cross-functional team and offer ways to promote teamwork. Keep reading to find out more.

Pros and cons of cross-functional teams

Cross-functional teams can offer organizations numerous benefits. But, bringing together a room full of unlike-minded people and expecting them to collaborate doesn’t come without its share of challenges. Here are some of the pros and cons of cross-functional teams:

Pros:

  • Better problem-solving: The added brainpower and creativity achieved with cross-functional teams can help organizations more effectively solve problems. Individual views may become clouded, but a team of varied members with unique experiences, knowledge and expertise can broaden perspectives and increase ideas to tackle challenges.
  • Increased knowledge: Those serving on a cross-functional team can gain a better understanding of the company, its challenges and goals. Armed with this knowledge, employees are more able to comprehend how their own work, and the work of others, contributes to company success.
  • Camaraderie: A cross-functional team allows staff from various areas within the company to share a common goal or objective. People who may never have worked closely together can work in teams for a common purpose. This can build relationships and may increase camaraderie and cohesion among the group.

Cons:

 

  • Decreased productivity: With teamwork, there is always the risk that some will work harder than others. Dividing the work up according to individual strengths and weaknesses can help ensure all members have the opportunity to contribute.
  • Inhibited idea generation: Sometimes, cross-functional teams can actually impede idea generation, especially when groups consist of both introverts and extroverts. For instance, those who are more reserved may become inhibited by more outgoing team members, and, in turn, withhold their thoughts or ideas. Or, a more gregarious team member may unknowingly dominate the conversation and even generate groupthink. Overcome these situations with simple group guidelines. For example, try a more structured brainstorming session where each team member jots his or her ideas down privately first. Then all ideas can be transcribed onto Post-its® Notes to be displayed and shared with the group.
  • Conflict: There’s always the possibility that cross-functional teams will experience conflict. Whether it’s a team member who is unwilling to see the viewpoints of others, or someone else is missing deadlines, conflict can kill your team. Avoid this by immediately identifying the cause of any conflict, the effect it’s having on the team and a solution that suits the entire group. On the same note, immediately identify star performers and reward them with a company logo’d T-shirt or iPad® sleeve.

Remember, teamwork can be tough. But the benefits usually far outweigh the challenges. Thank team members for their hard work and their accomplishments once the job is done. Team pullovers or techy gadgets, like a logo’d power bank or a combo card reader/hub make great rewards for a job well done.

There are both pros and cons to cross-functional teams. Tackle the challenges by keeping conflict to a minimum, encouraging everyone to contribute and evenly distributing work, and you’ll be sure to reap the benefits.

Grimsley, Shawn. “Cross-functional Teams: Definition, Advantages & Disadvantages.” Education Portal. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 24 Nov. 2015.

Reh, F. John. “Cross-functional Teams Are A Way To Get Ahead.” About. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 24 Nov. 2015.

“Tips for Effective Teamwork.” Legal Academic Skills Centre.  N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 24 Nov. 2015.

 

 

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