7 Effective Ways To Improve a Cross-Functional Team

Cross-functional teams are essential in today’s multifaceted business environment. They bring a blending varied of expertise to spark innovation and address complex challenges. Yet, the task of guiding these teams to work in harmony is not without its hurdles, as differences in background and departmental objectives can complicate collaboration.

Harvard research reveals that about 75% of cross-functional teams tend to underperform, often due to a clash of interests and conflicting loyalties among members. Stanford Professor Behnam Tabrizi underscores that the very diversity that equips such teams for innovative solutions can also be a source of discord without strategic leadership. Recognizing these challenges, it becomes clear that deliberate, informed strategies are necessary to harness the full potential of cross-functional teams. Here, we will delve into seven key strategies to strengthen the performance and synergy of these collaborative groups.

Establish Clear Leadership: Appoint a dedicated leader to steer the cross-functional team. This person sets the tone, manages conflict, and maintains focus on actionable goals. Effective leadership is crucial for orchestrating the collective efforts of varied specialists towards a unified objective.

Nurture a Cohesive Team Culture: Create an environment where team members feel safe to express ideas and challenge assumptions. Psychological safety is critical for cross-functional collaboration, allowing individuals to contribute without fear of negative repercussions.

Define Vision and Set Shared Goals: Clearly articulate the team’s purpose and goals. Without a shared vision, members may default to their departmental priorities, which can fracture team cohesion and dilute efforts.

Promote Collective Responsibility: Encourage each member to invest in the team’s success. Shared ownership fosters a sense of accountability and diminishes siloed thinking, ensuring that the team’s objectives take precedence over individual departmental goals.

Offer Development and Big-Picture Training: Continuous learning opportunities can broaden team members’ perspectives and appreciation for different functions. Understanding the interconnected nature of the organization encourages collaboration and reinforces the value of cross-functional teamwork.

Facilitate Open and Regular Communication: Open lines of communication are essential for team performance. They ensure ideas, updates, and challenges are shared timely and openly, fostering a dynamic and responsive team environment.

Optimize Meeting Productivity: Meetings should be a time for effective problem-solving and decision-making. Leaders must manage these interactions to maximize their value, focusing on the team’s goals and fostering an atmosphere of inclusiveness.

Implementing these strategies can transform cross-functional teams from a source of potential dysfunction into a dynamic force capable of driving innovation and progress within any organization.

Lead From Within: Empowering a cross-functional team begins with fostering unity and shared purpose, turning diverse expertise into a singular force for achievement and growth.


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After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

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